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The Red Grange Story 



92 G757i 

Grange, Harold Edward, 

1904- 
The Red Grange atory, 

the autobiography of 
[1953] 



The Red Grange Story 
An Autobiography 



As Told to Ira Morton 



Foreword by Robert C. Zuppke 

New Introduction and Afterword 
by Ira Morton 



University of Illinois Press 
Urbana and Chicago 



lllini Books edition, 1993 

1953, 1981 by Margaret Grange and Ira Morton 
Reprinted by arrangement with the copyright owners. 
Introduction and afterword 1993 by Ira Morton 
Manufactured in the United States of America 
P 5 4 3 2 1 

This book is printed on add-free paper. 

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 
Grange, Red, 1903-1991 

The Red Grange story : an autobiography / as told to Ira Morton ; 
foreword by Robert C, Zuppke ; new introd. and afterword by Ira 
Morton. lllini books ed, 

p. crn. 

Reprint. Previously published : New York : Putnam, 1953, 
ISBN 0-252-06329-5 (alk. paper) 

1. Grange, Red, 1903-1991. 2. Football players United States- 
Biography, I. Morton, Ira. II. Title. 
GV939.G7A3 1993 
796.332'092 dc20 

[B| 93-11212 

CIP 



It is with a deep sense of gratitude that I dedicate 

this book to the University of Illinois. Everything 

good that happened to me in my life stems from 

the roots I planted there as a youth. 

Harold "Red" Grange 



o< 



Contents 

Introduction by Ira Morton ix 

Foreword by Robert C. Zuppke xix 

1 . The Early Days 3 

2. Winning Sixteen Letters in High School 11 

3. "The Wheaton Iceman" 21 

4. First Ail-American Honors 31 

5. "Illinois vs. the Conference" 42 

6. Four Touchdowns in Twelve Minutes 49 

7. My Toughest College Game 60 

8. Illinois Invades the East 69 

9. The Dutch Master 81 

10. Big Money Beckons One Million Dollars' 
Worth 89 

1 1 . Seven Games in Ten Days 98 

1 2 . Seven-Thousand-Mile Tour 1 08 

13. Pyle's Rival League 114 

14. Hollywood Bound 122 

15. My Luck Gives Out 133 

16. A Business Partnership Is Dissolved 140 

17. Successful Comeback Attempt 147 

18. The Modern "T" Is Born 159 



19. The Years Following 165 

20. In Retrospect 174 
For the Record 1 79 
Afterword by Ira Morton 181 

Illustrations follow page 88 



Introduction 

Following World War I, Americans were eager to 
forget the tension, perils, and tragedy of the war years. 
They were looking for peacetime heroes who could 
provide a diversion, and they found them on the playing 
fields of sports arenas, where athletic skills rather than 
guns were the weapons used to defeat an adversary. 
Those combatants who shone above the competition in 
a given sport were lifted out of the pack and placed 
upon a special altar reserved for sports idols. The process 
was helped along by sportswriters of the stature of 
Damon Runyon and Grantland Rice, who rhapsodized 
about the unparalleled feats of these athletes, dubbed 
them with colorful nicknames, and wrapped them in 
myth. This was the 4 'Golden Age of Sports." 

Two names emerge as the central figures of this 
unique period in Americana: Babe Ruth and Red Grange. 
This book is the story of one of them, just as he told 
it. 

Harold "Red" Grange began his legendary football 
career at Wheaton High School, where he crossed the 
goal line seventy-five times and became the most highly 
publicized high school athlete in the state of Illinois. At 
the University of Illinois he amassed a total of 3,637 
yards by running, 643 yards by passing, and scored 
thirty-one touchdowns. His collegiate statistics are re- 

ix 



markable considering he averaged forty-five minutes of 
playing time on both offense and defense and appeared 
in only twenty-one games. When Grange played in 
1923-24-25, freshmen were not permitted to play on 
the varsity and the season was limited to eight games. 
Today most freshmen are eligible for four years of 
competition and the regular season has been expanded 
to eleven games. Imagine the extent of his total offensive 
numbers had Illinois's three-time All-American been 
given the opportunity to compete in twenty more college 
games. 

In three varsity seasons Grange ran for over 100 yards 
eleven times, exceeded 200 yards on three occasions, 
and reached the 300-yard mark twice. And this was 
accomplished against some of the strongest opponents in 
the nation, teams like Nebraska, Iowa, Ohio State, Min 
nesota, the University of Chicago (when it was the Big 
Ten Conference Champion coached by the venerable 
Amos Alonzo Stagg), and the University of Pennsylvania 
(then regarded as the best team in the East). However, 
it was in the Illinois-Michigan game of October 18, 1924, 
that Grange ascended to an even higher level of play 
and became an American sports legend. 

Illinois met its arch-rival from Ann Arbor on a warm, 
sunny day at Urbana-Champaign before a sellout crowd 
of 67,000. Students, faculty, and alumni turned out in 
record numbers to celebrate the dedication of Memorial 
Stadium (the playing field was later named for Robert 
Zuppke) and see their campus hero in action. Avid 
football fans from all over the state poured into the 
college town by car and rail in the hope of witnessing 
x 



more Red Grange heroics. None of those in attendance 
would be disappointed. 

Grange took the opening kickoff on the Illinois five- 
yard line and headed upfield like a cheetah chasing 
prey. Within seconds he crossed Michigan's goal line, 
untouched. The stadium erupted in the first of a series 
of thunderous, nearly deafening ovations. Before twelve 
minutes of the first quarter had elapsed, Grange scored 
three more times on runs of 67, 56, and 45 yards. In 
the third quarter he ran for a fifth tally, and in the final 
period he passed for a sixth. At game's end, the junior 
halfback had accounted for 402 yards on the ground 
and 78 in the air as Illinois trounced Michigan 39-14. 

Red Grange's performance in that Illinois-Michigan 
game is regarded as the greatest one-man show in the 
annals of college football. Grantland Rice covered the 
event and was inspired to describe in poetry what he 
saw. It was through his feelings, spirit, and words that 
the Illini superstar would forever be "The Galloping 
Ghost." Sixty-seven years later, in the fall of 1991, Sports 
Illustrated remembered the event in its special classic 
issue, titled "A Celebration of Yesterday's Heroes." Of 
all those featured, the magazine chose to put Grange's 
picture on the front cover and devoted a full page to 
his historic feat against the Wolverines. 

Up until the end of Grange's senior season at Illinois, 
the thought of turning pro never entered his mind. 
This was understandable, for the National Football 
League was then perceived as a playground for macho 
characters with mediocre talent. The press gave the 
NFL very little coverage, with the result that fan support 

xi 



was minimal and the average pay for players was twenty- 
five dollars a game. Unlike most of today's college 
athletes who dream of playing in the NFL, Grange went 
to the university for only one reason: to get a good 
education so he could qualify for a decent job after 
graduation. If he participated in intercollegiate athletics, 
it would only be for fun and the opportunity it provided 
to earn a modicum of recognition among his peers on 
campus. This modest youthful goal was to change dra 
matically when he met a man named Charlie Pyle. 

Pyle's only claim to fame at the time was that he 
owned a couple of Champaign movie theaters. However, 
he was ambitious, persistent, cunning, and unbelievably 
persuasive. Recognizing the magnetism "The Galloping 
Ghost" engendered all across the land, he came up with 
a bold, imaginative plan: he would lure Illinois' superstar 
to sign a contract to play professional football and then 
peddle his services to the Chicago Bears. Pyle was 
convinced Grange could earn a million dollars as a pro 
if the Bears' top brass could be talked into a 50-50 split 
of the gate receipts. 

Pyle first approached Grange with his wild scheme 
toward the end of the 1925 season, but the Illinois 
senior was uninterested and suspicious that the theater 
owner was either a flake or represented the Capone 
mob. However, Pyle relentlessly pursued Grange and 
finally managed to get his signature on a contract 
immediately after his last college game, against Ohio 
State. The possibility of making a million dollars was 
much too tempting for a poor college boy to pass up. 
Just prior to the signing, Pyle met in Chicago with 



XII 



George Halas and George Sternamen, co-owners of the 
Bears, and after lengthy, grueling negotiations lasting 
into the night, he got them to agree to his stiff terms. 
Five days after the game with the Buckeyes, on Novem 
ber 26, 1925, "The Galloping Ghost" showed up at 
Wrigley Field in a Bears uniform for his professional 
debut against the Chicago Cardinals. 

In past seasons the Bears' management was thrilled 
if the team attracted a crowd of 5,000, but on that 
Thanksgiving Day Wrigley Field was filled to capacity. 
Thousands more were lined up around the stadium at 
game time hoping to get in. This sudden avalanche of 
fan interest was directly attributable to the extensive 
newspaper coverage of Grange's decision to cast his lot 
with the pros. (In those days sporting events depended 
entirely upon newspapers for publicity as radio was in 
its infancy and television was yet to be born.) 

Following the Cardinal game, which ended in a 0-0 
tie, the Bears went on to play eighteen games from 
coast to coast over the short span of sixty-six days. 
Battered and bruised, Grange was forced to sit out two 
games due to injuries, but he still managed to average 
thirty minutes of playing time in the remaining contests. 
When the extended season ended on January 31, 1926, 
"The Galloping Ghost" had crossed the goal line sev 
enteen times, thus partially satisfying the more than 
400,000 fans who passed through the turnstiles to catch 
a glimpse of their hero in action. The important thing 
was that professional football got the exposure it des 
perately needed, fans were impressed with the quality 
of play, and the NFL finally came of age. 

xiii 



Red Grange made $125,000 in his first year as a pro 
and another $85,000 in endorsements and a movie deal. 
It may not seem like much compared to the millons 
earned by today's superstars, but in 1925-26 it was 
considered a fortune. Those were the days w r hen you 
could buy a new car for $400, eat a full-course meal at 
a good restaurant for less than a buck, get a haircut for 
fifteen cents, and buy a decent suit for around ten 
dollars. Grange was now rich, and he had Charlie Pyle 
to thank for it. Pyle thus became America's first super 
sports agent and was annointed by the press with the 
nickname "Cash V Carry." 

Red Grange played professional football for eight 
more seasons before retiring in 1935 at age thirty-two. 
Due to a serious knee injury that kept him out of action 
during the entire 1928 season and forever stripped him 
of his speed and mobility as a runner, he never made 
the million dollars Pyle had promised him. However, 
he still performed well enough on both offense and 
defense in his comeback attempt to ultimately be selected 
as a charter member of the Professional Football Hall 
of Fame. From a historical perspective, Grange managed 
to gain everlasting recognition as the man who single- 
handedly provided the catalyst that put the NFL in 
business as a major sports attraction. 

As a young boy growing up in Chicago, I was very 
familiar with the Grange name. In my mind Red Grange 
was to football what Babe Ruth was to baseball. I never 
saw Grange play, but I clearly remember going to the 
neighborhood theater on Saturday afternoons to watch 
him elude sinister pursuers in a thrilling thirteen-episode 
xiv 



serial called "The Galloping Ghost." Later, while a 
journalism student at the University of Illinois, I became 
inbued with the Grange mystique and could almost feel 
his presence when attending games at Memorial Stad 
ium. 

Some years later, in the summer of 1950, while 
working as a columnist for a Chicago newspaper, I 
suddenly came up with the idea of writing Grange's life 
story. A mutual friend arranged an introduction, and I 
met Red for the first time in his downtown office. He 
greeted me in a warm, friendly manner and listened 
carefully to my proposal that we do his life story as an 
"as told to" autobiography. Then he asked some ques 
tions about my schooling and journalistic credentials. 
No more than an hour had elapsed when he said, "You're 
the first to come to me with this idea. I like it and I 
like your enthusiasm. Besides, you're a fellow Illini. Let's 
do it." This newly established professional relationship 
was to blossom into a close friendship that lasted until 
Red's passing some forty-one years later. 

It took nearly three years to complete the book 
and that included a six-month hiatus while Red re 
covered from a heart attack. We met every two weeks 
at his northside apartment. I often brought along my 
tape recorder, and I would set it on the kitchen table, 
hand Red the microphone, and start asking questions. 
After each working session, which usually lasted about 
two hours, Margaret Grange would serve refreshments 
and the three of us would sit around and visit on a 
personal level. 

Red's power of recall amazed me. He remembered 

xv 



minute details of almost all the major and minor events 
of his life. However, I did not trust everything to his 
memory. Countless hours were spent at the Chicago 
Public Library turning the crank on the microfilm 
machine searching for quotes, feature stories, news 
items, and eyewitness accounts of Red's college and 
professional games. It was an education to read the 
works of the brilliant sportswriters who chronicled "The 
Golden Age of Sports" not only Runyon and Rice 
but Ford Frick, Westbrook Pegler, Warren Brown, and 
Walter Eckersall 

I believe it is worth mentioning that in all the print 
research that was done for this book and in numerous 
personal interviews with Red's contemporaries, I never 
read or heard any negative comments or allegations 
about his personal conduct on or off the field. He was 
looked upon as the ideal sports role model, and that 
image was never to change. 

During the course of writing this book, and in count 
less conversations in the years following its initial pub 
lication in 1953, I do not recall hearing Red use foul 
language or even imply a racial or ethnic slur. To him 
everyone was an individual whose strengths and flaws 
came from within rather than from any outside factors 
of race or ethnicity. Although competitive to the core 
and tough physically, there was nothing macho in his 
personality. He was humble, kind, gentle, and surpris 
ingly sentimental. 

The extent of Red's modesty was unbelievable. Coach 
Bob Zuppke saw fit to mention this outstanding char 
acter trait in the foreword he wrote for this book. I 
xvi 



learned the depth of Red's humility firsthand when I 
wrote to Ray Elliot in 1979 suggesting that a statue of 
Red Grange be erected outside the main entrance to 
Zuppke Field. Elliot, Zuppke's successor as coach and 
at the time director of athletics at Illinois, responded 
swiftly: "I think it is a remarkable idea and I will bring 
it up at the next board meeting and see if we can get 
some action." But when I called Red at home in Florida 
to tell him what we were up to, he wanted no part of 
it. "I appreciate what you tried to do, Ira," he told me, 
"but this is embarrassing. There are so many great 
football players who played for Illinois, it wouldn't be 
fair to single me out. Please call Ray and tell him to 
forget about this statue thing. If he asks why, tell him 
what I said." I had no choice but to carry out his wishes, 
and the idea was dropped. 

Red Grange has been called the greatest all-around 
football player of his generation, perhaps of all time. 
His legendary feats on the gridiron grow more wondrous 
with every passing year. What impressed me most about 
the man, however, was that his basic character, person 
ality, and ideals remained unchanged despite all the 
fame and adulation. 

Ira Morton 

Phoenix, Arizona 



XVH 



Foreword 

I have watched an endless number of football play 
ers down through the years, but never have I seen 
anyone quite the equal of Harold "Red" Grange. He 
came nearer to being the perfect football player than 
anyone I have ever known. What made him the foot 
ball immortal that he is? I think I can sum it up in 
these words: exceptional football abilities, courage, 
willingness to learn and, above all, his modesty. 

It has often been said that all Grange could do is 
run. The fact is, he could punt, pass, block and tackle 
with the best of them. But when he did run he 
was something to behold. He was the smoothest per 
former who ever carried a pigskin. He ran with 
rhythm, every movement of his body having meaning 
and direction. On the gridiron, Red Grange was a 
football stylist, a symphony of motion. 

Red was not only as fast as they make them once he 
got into the open, but an unusually fast starter. Since 
football is a series of fast starts and pickups, the abil 
ity to get away fast is of immense value. As soon as I 
recognized this talent in him I dropped all and any 
part of my previous "T" formations and used what I 
called "The Grange Formation." In this formation I 
placed Grange five and a half yards behind the line of 
scrimmage so as to allow his blockers a fraction of a 

xix 



second more time to take their men out, thus pre 
venting him from running into his own interference. 

At the end of Red's junior year in 1924, Grantland 
Rice, the famed sports writer who has a poet's way 
with words, described his great running ability thus: 
"Grange runs as (Paavo) Nurmi runs and (Jack) 
Dempsey moves, with almost no effort, as a shadow 
flits and drifts and darts. There is no gathering of mus 
cle for an extra lunge. There is only the effortless, 
ghostlike weave and glide upon effortless legs with 
a body that can detach itself from the hips with a 
change of pace that can come to a dead stop and pick 
up instant speed, so perfect is the co-ordination of 
brain and sinew/' 

One of Grange's greatest physical assets besides his 
wonderful pair of legs, was his uncanny peripheral 
vision, which enabled him to see to the sides as well 
as straight ahead. This made it possible for him to get 
a panoramic view of the playing field at an instant 
glance, and probably explains why he had such a 
great sense of timing and could dodge and twist, both 
to his left and right, and pick up his interference as 
effortlessly as he did. 

Grange was game to the core. His aim was always to 
win, always to give his very best. For him there was 
no such thing as mediocrity or taking it easy. As a re 
sult he took an enormous amount of punishment, but 
did so without ever flinching or complaining. 

To have a boy like Red Grange play for you was a 
coach's dream. He wanted more than anything else to 
xx 



be a great football player and welcomed any advice 
or suggestions that would help him along in that di 
rection. I never had to tell him anything twice. He 
learned fast not only because he was smart, but be 
cause he had the proper attitude. He never got to be 
so good that he couldn't learn any more. Grange was 
determined from the very beginning to continue 
growing in stature not only as a player but as a man, 
and his later life has borne that out. 

For Red, his conscientiousness and determination 
went hand in hand with an innate modesty which 
proved to be the lifesaver of his team's morale. He 
caught the imagination of the public like no football 
player before him. Because of the tremendous ac 
claim he acquired, many of the boys who played with 
him did not receive the credit due them. Jealousy on 
the part of his teammates could easily have devel 
oped, thereby ruining the team and his own individual 
career. It was Grange's tact bred by his modesty which 
caused his teammates to remain consistently strong and 
loyal. He was always quick to give credit to those who 
helped him and always voiced the opinion that his 
success was due largely to the efforts of the ten other 
men on the field. 

The qualities of character which contributed to 
ward making Red Grange the greatest name in foot 
ball are those same qualities which have made him 
the outstanding citizen that he is long after his play 
ing days are over. He continues to be a credit to foot 
ball, his university and former associates. He has 

xxi 



proven himself to be a durable character on and off 
the field. I know of no finer example of true Ameri 
can sportsmanship than the "Galloping Ghost" of 
Illinois. 

ROBERT C. ZUPPKE 

Champaign, Illinois 



xxn 



The Red Grange Story 



1 

The Early Days 



AT THE TURN of the century, Forksville, Penn 
sylvania, was a small town of some two hundred in 
habitants with most of its men working in the nearby 
lumber camps. It was situated in a picturesque set 
ting of giant hemlock trees, clear, cool creeks, green 
grass and majestic mountains. Forksville was, how 
ever, a rustic, isolated community over fifteen miles 
away from the nearest railroad and farther yet from 
the closest towns of Williamsport and Wilkes-Barre. 
The town had one ancient-looking hotel, a general 
store that sold everything from plows to needles, 
and a schoolhouse with all eight grades in one room. 

It was in this hamlet that I was born on June 13, 
1903, the third child of Sadie and Lyle Grange. My 
father, the foreman of three lumber camps owned by 
the late Pennsylvania State Senator Charles W. Sones, 
was Scotch-Irish, and my mother of English extraction. 
I had two older sisters named Norma and Mildred and 
a brother, Garland, born two years after me. 

I have very few memories of my early days in 
Forksville, since my family moved from there when I 
was five years old. I vaguely remember such things as 
coasting down the steep, snow-coated hills on a sled in 

3 



the wintertime, the spring floods, the two covered 
bridges that spanned the two creeks in the town and 
the fishing I did in those creeks. I also have a faint 
recollection of the gypsy bands that came to Forks- 
ville every summer and how frightened I was that 
they'd steal my dog Jack. I was crazy about that dog 
and played with him by the hour. My favorite pas 
time was to back Jack in the corner of the fence and 
watch him dodge, fake and squirm his way out of my 
grasp. He was unquestionably the greatest open-field 
runner I ever saw, and I learned things from him I 
never forgot. 

There are two things that stand out in my memory 
about the Forksville days. They are the annual county 
fair and the lumber camps where my father worked. I 
recall how interested I was in the baseball games and 
track meets that were held at the fair and how I tried 
to emulate the older boys who participated in those 
events. One day after watching one of the track meets 
I went home and attempted to pole vault with a 
homemade pole I fashioned from a branch of a tree. 
The pole snapped when I applied pressure and part 
of it ran into my side, breaking two ribs. As far as I 
know, this was my first athletic injury. 

It was always a thrill to visit my father at one of 
the lumber camps. Whenever I'd come around, one 
of the teamsters would put me up on a horse and let 
me ride while they were skidding the logs. When I 
wasn't on a horse I would stand and watch for hours 
the thunderous spectacle of the logs sliding down the 
4 



mountainside and the way the men worked feverishly 
to break the log jams in Loyalsock Creek. 

My father was a man for a kid to brag about. 
Besides being a great woodsman, he weighed more 
than two hundred pounds, stood a shade over six feet 
tall and was so fast and quick on his feet for a big man 
that he could lick anybody in the countryside. That's 
how he got to be a lumber-camp foreman. Lumber 
jacks are generally pretty rough, tough characters and 
the only way a man could rate as the boss-man over 
such a crew was to be tougher than any man working 
for him. 

There was only one other lumberjack who ever 
seriously threatened my dad's position as the town 
Goliath. This man was bigger than my father and fan 
cied himself the town bully. The two men had a show 
down one day, battling for six hours in the woods un 
til the bully, battered to a pulp, finally dropped into 
a state of unconsciousness. After this no man ever 
dared stand up to my father again. 

My mother died when I was five. Several months 
afterward, my father moved the family to Wheaton, 
Illinois, where his four brothers and one sister lived. 
When we got to Wheaton, Dad rented a small home 
and went into the house-moving business with Uncle 
Sumner. Before long he decided it wasn't a good plan 
to raise girls without a mother, so he sent my sisters 
back to Pennsylvania to live with my mother's folks. 
At first Aunt Bertha took care of Garland and me 
during part of the day while Dad worked, but later a 

5 



housekeeper was hired when my aunt left Wheaton to 
become Dean of Women at Houghton College in up 
state New York. 

A few years passed and my father, Garland and I, 
moved in with Uncle Luther, who was a bachelor. By 
the time I entered eighth grade we changed our ad 
dress again, with Dad and Garland sharing a small 
apartment above a store while I moved in with Uncle 
Ernest on his farm. I lived with Uncle Ernest for about 
a year a year I'll never forget. 

The following was a typical day on Uncle Ernest's 
farm. Rising at five A.M., I'd head straight for the 
horse and cow barns and put in about an hour's work 
feeding hay and oats to five horses and milking four 
cows before sitting down at the breakfast table. After 
breakfast I had to water the horses, then hitch them 
up to the wagon and drive into town to deliver the 
milk to the local dairy. Returning to the farm, I'd get 
on my bicycle and pedal two miles to school. At 
night, just before retiring, it was my job to clean out 
the barns, get the hay down for the next morning, 
feed the horses and milk the cows again. Needless to 
say, I earned my keep and then some. After a year 
of this my father was convinced Uncle Ernest was 
working me too hard and took me back to live with 
him. 

I found Wheaton to be quite different from 
Forks ville. With its nearly four thousand residents, 
Wheaton was a bustling metropolis by comparison. 
But it didn't have the beautiful, mountainous terrain 
of Forksville. Nevertheless the air was still fresh and 
6 



clear and there was lots of room for kids to play. Most 
important, it offered a more civilized way of life. At 
first I missed Forksville terribly, but as the years 
rolled on I realized more and more the advantages of 
growing up in Wheaton. Had the family remained in 
Forksville, I might have ended up as another Huckle 
berry Finn. 

The school system of Wheaton was quite an im 
provement over Forksville, but that meant very lit 
tle to me during my elementary-school days. I hated 
school just like any other kid and was resigned to it 
simply as a duty. The more important part of living 
came after school when I was able to play football, 
basketball and baseball with my pals. 

We used to play football in a vacant lot near the 
edge of town. None of us had uniforms, but impro 
vised by cutting off the pant legs of our oldest trou 
sers and added padding where needed most. The lot 
we played on was convex in shape, with fifty yards of 
the field on one side of a hill and fifty yards on the 
other. On a kickoff the ball would sail up and over 
the top of the hill, seemingly coming from nowhere. 
By the time a player tucked the pigskin under his arm 
and started up the field behind his interference, the 
opposition would suddenly swarm over the top like 
"The Charge of the Light Brigade." It was enough to 
scare the daylights out of a kid. 

On the football field I tried my darnedest to be like 
my two special heroes, All-Americans Bart Macomber 
and Potsy Clark of Illinois, This ambition was com 
pletely frustrated at the time since I insisted on play- 

7 



ing with the older kids who made me look pretty sad 
by comparison. I took quite a beating, too. Once I 
got kicked in the spine and couldn't sit down for two 
weeks. I was always getting the flesh around my eyes 
cut open and frequently had to have stitches taken. 
Many times I got so discouraged I wanted to give up 
playing football in favor of shooting marbles or play 
ing tops. It was my father who encouraged me to con 
tinue. He said it would make a man of me. 

Besides the bruises I received from football, I got 
my share of bloody noses and blackened eyes from 
fighting. I usually got whipped in these bouts by one 
of the older boys. My dad, running true to form, of 
fered no sympathy in this connection. I remember 
well how he impressed upon me that it was more im 
portant to fight fairly than to win a fight. This object 
lesson in sportsmanship stayed with me all my life. 

Wheaton had no YMCA or gymnasium for the kids 
in those days. When the basketball season rolled 
around we converted neighborly Lawrence Plum- 
mer's barn loft with a hoop and used it for practice. A 
church basketball league and a Boy Scout league were 
formed for the kids in the town and we got to play 
most of our games in the Wheaton College gym. I 
kept active as usual, playing on teams in both 
leagues. Those of us who played took our basketball 
seriously with the result we had some pretty fair 
teams. Looking back, Fm glad I played a lot of bas 
ketball as a kid, for it's a wonderful game to develop 
one's legs for football. 

In the summer, besides playing a great deal of 
8 



baseball, I spent many hours with my pals touring 
the surrounding towns on our bicycles. Usually we'd 
pedal until near exhaustion. Riding a bicycle was also 
great for the legs. 

The summer also brought the inevitable church 
picnic with its races and various games of skill. The 
first time I entered a race for youngsters under eight 
I was awarded a baseball for winning. At those pic 
nics I won at least one race every year I participated. 
I had quite an incentive since my dad gave me a 
quarter every time I won. Speaking of running, I am 
convinced it is impossible to coach a youngster to run 
faster than his natural gait. Speed is something you're 
born with it can't be taught. I was lucky enough to 
have it. 

Like most kids, I tried my hand at caddying be 
cause it seemed like a nice, clean way to earn some 
spending money. However, after the first day of stag 
gering through seventy-two holes, I decided it wasn't 
the kind of work I cared to do too often. 

When I was eight years old, my athletic career 
ended almost before it began. A doctor, called in to 
treat me for an ordinary cold, said I had developed 
a heart murmur and that I no longer should be al 
lowed to engage in any strenuous exercise. Needless 
to say, my father was crushed by the news. I was 
pretty unhappy, too, but just like a boy didn't realize 
the supposed seriousness of my condition. After a few 
weeks I began to sneak out after school to play in the 
neighborhood games. This went on for several months 
without my father being the wiser. 

9 



Then one day I suffered a back injury from playing 
football, and when I got home made a determined 
but unsuccessful attempt to conceal the pain from my 
dad. He made me confess how it happened, and when 
he found out, instead of being angry, was completely 
sympathetic. He decided then and there that since 
athletics meant so much to me he wasn't going to in 
terfere any more, despite the doctor's orders. 

In making this decision without consulting further 
with a physician, Dad took a big gamble. As it turned 
out I suffered no ill effects, and if I did actually have 
a heart ailment as a child, it disappeared. The only ex 
planation I can give of this strange incident is that 
the heart murmur diagnosed by the doctor was func 
tional instead of organic, and as such was merely a 
temporary condition. 

When I entered Wheaton High School I had my 
first thorough physical examination since I was eight. 
Although Dad and I had almost forgotten about the 
heart scare of nearly six years back, we nevertheless 
breathed a sigh of relief when they pronounced me to 
be in top physical condition. And I was. Although a 
bit long legged, I had a rugged physique for a young 
ster. The vigorous outdoor life I led in Forksville and 
Wheaton helped build up the stamina and endurance 
that I needed in the years that followed. 



10 



Winning Sixteen Letters 
in High School 

i ENTERED Wheaton High School in the fall 
of 1918. At the time I was living with my father 
and brother in a five-room apartment over one of the 
stores in the downtown district. Dad, who was a one- 
man police force in Wheaton, barely made enough to 
support the three of us. We were so poor all I did 
during my high-school years was attend classes, study 
and participate in athletics. I never went out on dates 
with girls, because I didn't have any money or a de 
cent suit of clothes to wear. The little I earned dur 
ing the summers working on an ice truck was needed 
for the bare necessities of life. 

Our high school was housed in a rickety, old three- 
story red-brick building with a high tower on top. 
J. B. "Prof" Russell, the superintendent of Wheat- 
on's public schools, had his office in that tower. All 
the teachers at Wheaton High, including Miss Ella 
Gregg the principal, were women with the excep 
tion of Roy Puckey, the manual training teacher. 
Since Puckey had some knowledge of sports, he was 
forced into doubling up as the coach of all the school's 
athletic teams. 

11 



I went out for football a few days after enrolling in 
high school. Reporting for practice, Puckey asked me 
what position I played. I inquired in return what 
positions were open and was informed all the boys 
except the right end were back from last year's squad. 
Without hesitation I informed Puckey I was a right 
end. Starting off at that position, I played there my 
entire freshman season. 

Having just turned fifteen and weighing a mere 
138 pounds, I took quite a beating playing high- 
school football as a freshman. I clearly remember 
how nervous and self-conscious I was in my first 
game. It seemed like everyone was watching me and I 
got to the point where I wished I hadn't gone out for 
football. Wheaton won that first contest in spite of 
me, but succeeded in winning only one other the rest 
of the season. 

As a freshman I was a good tackier, could run and 
get down fast under kicks. Being tall I was able to 
reach up high for passes, although much to my disap 
pointment no one ever threw any at me during the 
games. The one and only time I carried the ball that 
first year, I made a touchdown. It was in the last con 
test of the season when I grabbed the ball on a kick- 
off and scampered nearly seventy yards to the goal. 
After the run my teammates pounded me on the back 
and made some flattering remarks about my belong 
ing in the backfield. Taking them seriously, I made a 
bid for a backfield berth the next fall. I told Bill Cas- 
tleman, the school's new manual training teacher and 
football coach, that I was really a halfback and played 
12 



end the year before merely because the team needed 
someone for the position. Castleman let me have a 
whirl at it and I became the regular left halfback. I 
played at that position my sophomore, junior and 
senior years. 

Our football field was located in an apple orchard a 
mile and a half from school. It was no easy task walk 
ing that distance every night after a strenuous prac 
tice session. The freshman members of the team lined 
the playing field and cleared away the stray apples on 
Saturday mornings before the games. Regardless of 
how careful we were to remove the fruit from the 
ground, we'd always miss a few. I got juice squirted in 
my eye dozens of times falling on those apples. Wheaton 
High finally built a football stadium in 1926 and in 
cidentally, named it Grange Field. 

We usually had a crowd of around two hundred at 
our football games. There were no seats, so the peo 
ple stood around the sidelines and walked up and 
down with the plays. Admission was free, but a hat 
was passed around and the school collected from 
twenty-five to fifty cents per person. That, along with 
the limited budget Wheaton had for athletics, helped 
pay for football and most of our other sports. 

The high school furnished us with all the necessary 
football equipment except shoes and helmets. I had a 
hard time trying to scrape up enough money for those 
two items. In the end I could afford only a second 
hand helmet from a boy who graduated the year be 
fore, which made it necessary for me to borrow shoes 
from the other players on the team when they 

13 



weren't in the game. During my freshman year I 
never wore a pair of football shoes that fit me. 

After finishing my first football campaign, I went 
out for basketball. Wheaton had one of its finest 
teams a few years before, but the season immediately 
prior to my enrollment Elmer Hoffman, Beans 
DeWolf, Hip Conley, Ode Voigt and Larry Brooks, 
all the members of that outstanding team, had grad 
uated together leaving the race for positions wide 
open. Under those conditions I was able to make the 
squad my first year along with my close pal Lawrence 
Plummer, the boy in whose barn I used to play dur 
ing my grammar-school days. With all the practicing 
we did in the hayloft we got to be pretty good shots. I 
was elected captain of the basketball squad my first 
season and kept that honor through my sophomore 
year. 

Our initial game of the 1918-19 season was against 
the Wheaton alumni. Their team was made up en 
tirely of the five players I mentioned as comprising 
the greatest team in Wheaton 's history. When we 
beat them handily the townsfolk began to sit up and 
take notice of us. 

My first two years at Wheaton I played center and 
the last two years operated at the forward position. 
Beginning with my freshman season, I managed to 
win many all-sectional honors and have always felt 
that basketball was my best game even though I 
never participated in the sport at Illinois. 

In the spring I went out for track. I ran the 100 
and 220, broad jump and high jump, and both the 
14 



low and high hurdles. Beginning as a freshman I usu 
ally entered all six events at a meet and on many occa 
sions won all of them. My best time in the 100 was 
10 seconds and the farthest I ever broad jumped was 
close to twenty-three feet. My high-jump limit was 
about six feet. 

Wheaton High School didn't have a track of its own 
so we'd jog about three miles every day to Wheaton 
College's Lawson Field. We also used the college gym 
for basketball practice three times a week and played 
our games there on Saturday nights. 

I was captain of the track team my sophomore, 
junior and senior years. The last two years I repre 
sented Wheaton in the state meet for class B schools 
which was for schools with enrollment under five 
hundred. At those meets I won the 100, 220 and 
broad jump in alternate years. The winter of my sen 
ior year a Little Seven Conference was organized. It 
was made up of Geneva, Naperville, St. Charles, Ba- 
tavia, Dundee, Sycamore and Wheaton. At our first 
annual track competition in St. Charles I won six events 
and made several marks that were to stand for almost 
twenty years. 

The sport I liked best in high school was baseball. I 
went out for the team the same time I went out for 
track and played baseball whenever we didn't have a 
meet. With baseball not being considered as impor 
tant as football, basketball and track at the time, we 
didn't even have a regular ball field to play on. We 
had to set up our own diamonds on the various vacant 
lots around Wheaton. The baseball squad as well as 

15 



all other teams at the school used the same locker 
room, which was located in the basement of the 
school building. With only one shower, it often took 
us more than an hour to get out of there. 

Throwing and batting right-handed, I played all 
the positions including pitcher and catcher al 
though my ambition was to be a first baseman. I 
wanted to be like Vic Saier, the great first sacker of 
the Chicago Cubs. I had a strong throwing arm and 
could hit pretty well, too. However, when I played 
baseball down at Illinois, I couldn't bat worth a lick 
when the coach changed my batting stance. 

When I said earlier all I did while attending high 
school was go to school, study and participate in ath 
letics, I neglected to mention one other activity. I did 
all the cooking at home and, if I have to say so my 
self, was a darn good chef. My brother Garland did 
the shopping and we took turns washing and wiping 
the dishes. We also did the house cleaning ourselves 
since Dad was generally too busy to help with any of 
these chores. The only relaxation my father had was 
to attend Wheaton's basketball and football games. Al 
though he never participated in either of these sports 
as a boy, he grew to be a tremendous fan and to my 
knowledge never missed a game while I was in high 
school. He considered attending these contests part of 
his official duties. It would have been an easy matter 
to rob a bank while a game was going on. 

As a sophomore on the football team I scored 
ninety-nine points, making fifteen touchdowns and 
kicking nine extra points. My greatest asset that first 
16 



season as a halfback was, besides my ability to run fast, 
my use of the stiff arm. By building up great strength 
in my arm working on the ice truck, I was able to 
push away many would-be tacklers. 

During my junior year I worked hard to learn how 
to dodge and throw my hips away from a tackier as 
he was about to hit me. The results amazed me, for 
that year I improved to the point where I scored 
255 points with thirty-six touchdowns and thirty-nine 
conversions. In one game I scored eight times and 
made all the extra points. We won by such lopsided 
scores as 83-0 and 41-13, and wound up undefeated in 
our DuPage County League made up of seven teams 
in Chicago's western suburbs. 

Of the seven teams in the conference, our toughest 
rival was Naperville. We always beat them in football 
but in basketball it was generally pretty even. A few 
years before I entered high school, a big slug fest took 
place after a football game between Wheaton and 
Naperville, and during the excitement someone clob 
bered DuPage county's Sheriff Kuhn over the head 
with a monkey wrench. The sheriff was laid up for 
some time and relations between the two schools were 
nearly severed as a result of the incident. 

One of the most pleasant recollections of my 
Wheaton High School days concerns the Charles Dol- 
linger family. The Dollingers were the parents of 
Charles, Jr., a close buddy and teammate of mine on 
the basketball and football teams, and for three years, 
whenever I wasn't cooking at home, I ate my meals 
at their house. Mrs. Dollinger was a kindly, gentle 

17 



woman who gave me the mothering a boy of my age 
needed. Her husband, known affectionately as "Doc" 
to all the residents of the town, owned the corner 
drugstore. After a game he would serve free sodas and 
sundaes to all the members of the teams. "Doc" had 
one of the first Buicks in Wheaton and would drive 
many of the players home from the games and take a 
gang of us out on Sundays to a cottage they had at 
Powers Lake, Wisconsin. They were a most generous 
family. To this day I still have the scrapbooks which 
Mrs. Dollinger kept for me when I was at Illinois. 

My grades in school were always pretty good, but 
to me were just a means to an end. I studied mostly 
because I had to stay eligible. I remember the time in 
my second year when I almost lost that eligibility 
through cheating in Latin, which was my poorest sub 
ject. I had the English translation written over the 
Latin and because I neglected to space the words prop 
erly, didn't turn the pages with the others. It didn't 
take the teacher long to recognize what I was up to. 
She told me to stay after class and I was scared stiff 
I'd be reported and ruled off the basketball team that 
year. I was greatly relieved when she let me off easy by 
merely warning me never to be guilty of such conduct 
again. I heeded the warning from then on. 

In my last year of football competition at Wheaton 
1 crossed the goal line 23 times and kicked 34 points 
after touchdown, which added up to 172 points. All 
told, in three years of high-school competition I made 
75 touchdowns, including the one of my freshman 
18 



year, and booted 82 conversions for a grand total of 
532 points. 

Wheaton won every game but one my senior year. 
We lost 39-0 when we went up to Toledo to play the 
powerful Scott High School eleven. In that game I 
got kicked in the head early in the first quarter and 
was carried unconscious from the field. I didn't come 
to for almost forty-eight hours and then could hardly 
talk for days afterward. It was the only time I was 
ever seriously hurt playing high-school football. How 
ever, I frequently had stitches taken around my eyes, 
because of my bad habit of tackling low which caused 
me to get cut by the players* heels. 

Before our loss to Scott High we licked two strong 
teams by big scores including a 21-0 victory over Aus 
tin High School, the runner-up for the High School 
Championship of Chicago that fall. After the sad ex 
perience at Toledo, we won the remainder of our 
season's games and against Downers Grove I scored 
six touchdowns as we trounced them 63-14 for the 
League Championship. That game was like a track 
meet. We were all so exhausted from making long 
runs, we considered the possibility of pulling the 
tackles back to carry the ball for a while. 

Toward the end of my senior year at Wheaton I 
was officially contacted by a college for the first time 
during my high-school career. Carl Johnson, one of 
Michigan's all-time track greats, came down to 
Wheaton with a few other Wolverine alumni to sell 
me on the idea of going to their school. Since athletic 

19 



scholarships were unknown at that time they offered 
no financial assistance. I was very flattered at their in 
terest in me, but could not see my way clear to meet 
the expenses involved in attending an out-of-state in 
stitution* 

I finally wound up at the University of Illinois for 
three reasons. First, because it was the least expensive 
school I could go to as a resident of the State of Illi 
nois* Second, my neighbor, George Dawson, played on 
the Illinois football team and made me Illinois con 
scious by constantly talking up his alma mater. The 
third and most important reason had to do with the 
strong impression Coach Bob Zuppke made when I 
went down to Champaign in my senior year for the 
state high-school interscholastic track competition. Zup 
was very warm and friendly and I remember him say 
ing, "If you come down here to school I believe youll 
stand a good chance of making our football team." 
Those few words of encouragement from one of foot 
ball's greatest figures meant more to me at that time 
than it is possible to express. 



20 



3 



'The Wheaton Iceman' 



MOST ATHLETES are generally branded early 
in their playing days with a nickname which is sup 
posed to best capture the imagination of the fans. I 
had two such names. Besides the "Galloping Ghost," 
I was called ''The Wheaton Iceman/' It was only nat 
ural I be given more than one nickname since I had 
two separate careers. I was a football player in the 
fall and an iceman in the summer. 

I don't remember who hung "The Wheaton Ice 
man" title on me, but it sure caught on in a big way 
with the sports writers of the day. Although it turned 
out to be a swell publicity break, I honestly never in 
tended it as such. I got into the ice business simply 
because I needed to earn money and it was my first 
chance to land a full-time job. I kept at it for eight 
summers upon making the discovery that delivering 
ice was an excellent way to keep in shape. Reporting 
for football in the fall after a summer on the ice 
truck, I would be tough as nails and at least four 
weeks ahead of the other boys in conditioning. My 
iceman's duties made my arms, shoulders and legs 
strong and developed my wind. It was, in effect, my 
own private brand of "spring training/' 

21 



I began my eight-year hitch as "The Wheaton Ice 
man" the week after I was graduated from grammar 
school. It started one day when Luke Thompson, the 
owner-operator of an ice truck, thought he'd have a 
bit of fun with some of the neighborhood kids. He 
promised one dollar to the boy who could lift a sev 
enty-five-pound cake of ice on his shoulder. Just as he 
figured, none of the boys could lift the ice above their 
knees. Thanks to some experience I had with ice tongs 
while working for several years after school as a helper 
on an ice wagon I succeeded in getting the load up 
on my shoulder and Thompson was forced to make 
good his sporting offer. Actually, I had very little oc 
casion to use a pair of ice tongs before, since my job 
on the ice wagon consisted mostly of watching the 
horse while the driver made deliveries. 

Impressed with my being the only kid able to lift 
the ice to shoulder height and already having made 
an investment in me, Thompson invited me to work 
with him on his ice truck for the entire summer. The 
job sometimes required working fourteen hours a 
day, from five in the morning to seven at night, six 
days a week, but I jumped at the opportunity as the 
weekly wage of $37.50 seemed like more money than 
I ever dreamed it was possible to earn. 

An iceman's job is a rough, tough, bruising busi 
ness. I well remember all the agonizing moments 
when I jabbed myself with the ice pick, got the ice 
tongs stuck in my skin and dropped huge cakes of ice 
on my hands, feet and toes. None of these mishaps 
22 



were serious, however, except one which almost cost 
me my athletic career. 

This near-tragic accident was the result of a careless 
habit I had of jumping on the running board of the 
ice truck while it moved down the street between 
deliveries. One morning early in July, between my 
sophomore and junior years in high school, the handle 
alongside the cab of the truck, which I usually grabbed 
for support when I jumped on the running board, 
broke off in my hand. I tumbled to the street and under 
the truck which was loaded with three tons of ice. Be 
fore the vehicle could be brought to a stop, the back 
wheel ran over the meaty part of my left leg slightly 
above the knee. 

I was momentarily stunned as Herman Otto, who 
worked the route with me, nervously lifted me into 
the truck and drove off to a doctor's office. When I 
got over the initial shock I became almost panic- 
stricken at the thought that I might never play ball 
again. When the doctor first looked at me he feared 
the knee was crushed and amputation of my leg would 
be necessary. Luckily, further examination revealed 
the wheel missed within an inch of involving the knee 
joint and there was no need for such drastic action. 

Although my leg had been saved, I was given no 
better than a fifty-fifty chance for complete recovery. 
I worried constantly about this while confined to bed 
for almost a month with my leg uncomfortably hang 
ing in a sling. My family and friends were equally 
concerned and did everything they could to cheer me 

23 



up. There was nothing for me to do but lie on my 
back and wait for nature to take its course. 

Fate was kind, for in a matter of two or three weeks 
after I got out of bed I was walking again with little 
III effect. By fall I was well enough to report for foot 
ball Strangely enough, although I don't think the 
injury ever hampered my ability to run, my left leg 
has remained partly numb to this day. 

Luke Thompson felt particularly bad about the ac 
cident and did everything he could to help. He met 
all my doctor bills, besides continuing to pay my 
weekly salary. I didn't resume my chores on the ice 
truck that summer, but was back on the job the fol 
lowing year still convinced that being an iceman had 
more advantages than disadvantages. 

An iceman's job can be hazardous in other ways as 
well. In this connection I recall the lady who threat 
ened that her husband would lick me for tracking up 
her kitchen floor. Even though I apologized repeat 
edly, she refused to be forgiving. The very next time 
I delivered ice to her home she pointed a condemn 
ing finger in my direction and ordered her spouse to 
"teach that young punk some manners." If he had 
been a big brute I might have been in trouble, but as 
luck would have it he was more worried about the 
spot he was in than I was. This was due to the plain 
fact that I outweighed him by at least thirty-five 
pounds. His wife was the one who could have really 
done me some harm since she was bigger, and cer 
tainly more ferocious, than either of us. 

As the husband moved toward me he winked in an 
24 



obviously friendly manner and I immediately sensed 
his problem. It was clear he was only interested in 
making an impression in front of his wife. I went 
along with his little game by letting him shake me 
and tell me off in especially strong terms while I just 
stood still and acted like a boy afraid. About an hour 
after I left he caught up with me in his automobile 
and thanked me profusely for "making me look so 
brave in front of the old lady." As a further token of 
gratitude he slipped five dollars in my pocket. 

There was only one other time I missed work on 
the ice truck in eight summers and that was one after 
noon several weeks before the injury to my leg. On 
that particular morning I worked from five A. M. to 
noon, then took the rest of the day off in order to par 
ticipate in the Wheaton community track meet. My 
boss didn't appreciate the idea, but agreed to let me 
go when I pleaded, "Just this once/' Although some 
what tired when arriving at the meet, I was so excited 
to be there, I managed to win the 100- and 220-yard 
sprints, high jump, broad jump, high and low hurdles 
and I still have the loving cup to prove it. Since 
that was the only track meet the town of Wheaton 
ever held during the summers I worked as an iceman, 
I kept my promise to Thompson and never willfully 
neglected my job again. 

As I said, my working day averaged about twelve 
hours. Sometimes on Saturdays I worked as many as 
fourteen hours. Regardless of how many hours I put 
in, after dinner I used to throw a baseball or foot 
ball around with my brother Garland and a close pal 

25 



named Lyman DeWolf until dark. By nine P.M. I was 
usually in bed. On Saturday nights I wanted to go out 
on dates or be with the fellas just like any other boy 
my age, but I was generally so tired after a hard 
week's work that all I wanted to do was sleep. Sunday 
was the one day I enjoyed complete rest and relaxa 
tion. It consisted of sleeping almost to noon, attend 
ing a baseball game in the afternoon and then taking 
a train into Chicago to see an early evening movie 
and vaudeville show. 

This was the kind of life I led during the summers 
while I went to high school and college. While it's 
true it may seem like a pretty dull existence, there 
was a definite purpose to it. As a youngster I wanted 
more than anything else to be a great athlete, and I 
realized early that it meant giving up many of the 
things other kids didn't have to give up to achieve 
that ambition. Like anything else in life, success in 
athletics cannot be attained unless one is willing to 
sacrifice for it. 

An iceman discovers very quickly that some house 
wives can be quite different in the kitchen than in 
the parlor. Most of my customers were easy to do 
business with, but to be sure I had my share of trou 
blesome ones. For example, there was the woman 
who challenged the accuracy of the weight of a one- 
hundred-pound cake of ice she ordered. Having read 
in a newspaper how the weight of ice could be deter 
mined from its measurements, she got out the tape 
measure when I delivered the ice to her door one day 
and, after making the necessary calculations, decided 
26 



the ice was considerably below the one-hundred- 
pound mark. I insisted she was wrong, that if any 
thing it weighed more than one hundred pounds, but 
she refused to believe me. If I expected to collect for 
the order, I'd have to prove its weight. 

I had little choice but to lug the now slowly melt 
ing ice down two flights of stairs to the ice truck, half 
a block away. While my skeptical customer stared in 
tently, I placed the ice on the scale and much to her 
embarrassment it tipped the beam at 105 pounds. 
Before carrying the load up to her apartment again, I 
made her agree to pay the difference for the extra 
poundage. 

I also remember an experience with a lady who 
thought she invented a sure scheme to get free ice. 
On occasion she accepted and paid for her order just 
like anybody else, but most of the time would greet 
me at the door with, "Oh, I'm terribly sorry young 
man. I don't need any ice today. Guess I just plum 
forgot to take my ice card down/' Since she lived at 
the end of an unpaved, dead-end street that was im 
passable for motor vehicles, I'd leave the ice a few 
yards from her front gate rather than cart it back to 
the truck parked a block away. This went on for the 
better part of a summer until one day I accidentally 
spotted the old witch retrieving the ice after she 
thought I had left the vicinity. The next time she at 
tempted to dupe me I promptly dumped the ice on 
her front lawn and chopped it up in a million pieces. 

I was tagged as "The Wheaton Iceman" the sum 
mer following my sophomore year at Illinois. It was 

27 



the result of a publicity stunt that had me posing 
with a cake of ice on my shoulder with a couple of 
shapely beauties from the "Artists and Models" show 
running at the Apollo Theater in Chicago. The picture 
that was taken subsequently appeared in newspapers all 
over the country. It was the first time any mention 
had been made in the press of my summertime job, 
and the idea of a college football star doubling as a hard 
working iceman seemed to catch the public's fancy. 

When I returned to Wheaton in the summer of 
1926, after completing my first year of pro football 
and then making a movie in Hollywood, I took my 
old job back on Luke Thompson's ice truck. A lot of 
folks thought I was out of my mind. They figured it 
was a comedown for a guy who had made as much 
money as I had that year. But I didn't look at it that 
way. I was convinced, as always, that working on the 
ice truck was the best possible way to stay in condi 
tion. And, after all, that was of the utmost importance 
since I was still a football player and not a banker. 

There was one slight change, however, in my work 
ing habits after I got into the chips. I can truthfully 
say I performed all my iceman's chores as conscien 
tiously as before, it was just that I drove to and from 
work in my $5,500 Lincoln Phaeton instead of hitch 
ing a ride. Thompson used to rib me about that, say 
ing, "Red, please don't park that thing in front of my 
place. It kinda confuses me as to who's working for 
who." 

When I went to college, athletes were not given 
any financial assistance. Regardless of how great a 
28 



boy's athletic talents were, he had to pay his way 
through school just like any other student, I didn't 
receive a dime in the nearly three and one half years 
I spent at Illinois. I depended almost entirely upon 
the money I earned as "The Wheaton Iceman" to pay 
my expenses. As it turned out, working on the ice 
truck was one of the greatest things that ever hap 
pened to me in my development as a football player. 

It is an accepted fact the most important parts 
of a football player are his legs. Keeping those legs 
in shape represents the biggest single responsibility of 
a boy interested in playing football. While working on 
a road gang, laboring in the coal mines or steel mills 
is good for general muscle development, it contributes 
nothing toward keeping a player's legs in condition. 
One stands still when working at those jobs and doesn't 
use his legs. Delivering ice, which required my walk 
ing miles every day up and down stairs, kept me in 
all-around fine trim and provided the best possible off 
season training for my legs. And I never became af 
flicted with rheumatism as many predicted I would 
from being exposed to the cold and dampness of the 
ice. 

The important thing for a player to remember is 
that football isn't a game that can be played just three 
months in the fall. In order to excel in the sport, one 
must constantly work at keeping his body and, espe 
cially, his legs strong the other nine months of the 
year. I have known many potentially great football 
players who never attained their full capabilities be 
cause they had to spend the entire football season get- 

29 



ting back into condition after a lazy summer. I was 
offered all kinds of soft jobs during the school vacation 
periods, but always turned them down in favor of 
sweating it out on the ice truck. I was a fanatic on the 
subject of conditioning. 

It is practically an impossibility for a football 
player to set up his own training program. Almost 
superhuman will power is required to whip yourself 
into playing condition after even a slight lay-off. The 
trick is to get the kind of job during the off season 
that will, by its demands, keep one fit without actu 
ally realizing it. My job on Luke Thompson's ice truck 
filled the bill to a T. 



30 



First All -American Honors 

WHEN i ENROLLED in the University of Illinois 
in the fall of 1922, I pledged the Zeta Psi fraternity 
which, incidentally, turned out to be the only luxury 
I was to enjoy during my stay at the university. George 
Dawson, the Wheaton boy who originally talked me 
into going to Illinois, was a member of that fraternity. 
Arriving on the campus with the battered, second 
hand trunk my father bought for me, I must have 
looked more like a refugee from Siberia than a uni 
versity student. 

A few days after I moved into the fraternity house, 
the upperclassmen informed the pledges of the school 
activities in which they were to participate. Since I 
felt my best sports in high school were basketball and 
track, I planned to go out for those two sports at col 
lege, but the Zeta Psi's had other plans for me. They 
figured that since I also had a pretty good record in 
football at Wheaton High, it would be much more 
desirable, prestige-wise for the fraternity, if I were to 
concentrate on football. I argued that at 166 pounds 
I was too light for college football, but being a mere 
pledge my objections were of no consequence. 

The first day I reported for practice, I took a look 

31 



at some one hundred and fifty beefy candidates for the 
freshman team and became all the more convinced I 
didn't belong. Without even putting on a uniform, I 
went back to the fraternity house and complained. 
"What chance have I got against all those big guys?" 
My protests met only with a deaf ear and the threat 
of a paddling. Under the circumstances, I decided it 
would be wise to at least give it a try. The next day 
I went out for the freshman team in earnest, but still 
felt deep inside I didn't have a chance in the world to 
make the grade. However, when I took a longer look 
around I discovered much to my surprise that al 
though most of the aspirants were much bigger than 
I, they couldn't run as fast nor handle a football as 
well. I began to get a little more confidence. 

Before a week had passed, the squad was culled 
down to sixty. It was hard for me to believe I was not 
only still around, but put on the first-string team. The 
backfield in that number-one line-up included Ralph 
"Moon" Baker at quarterback, Earl Britton at full 
back, Paul Cook at right halfback and myself at left 
half. No sooner had Burt Ingwersen, the frosh coach, 
picked his starters, than we found ourselves pitted 
against the varsity in a regulation game. Although the 
varsity nosed us out 21-19, I scored two touchdowns 
in that game, one on the return of a sixty-yard punt. 
From that day on I was "made" as a freshman. At the 
end of the season I was to be named captain of the 
frosh eleven. 

After that first encounter with the varsity, we 
32 



scrimmaged them regularly twice a week. Ingwersen 
used to key us up for those games just as if they were 
for the Conference Championship, and most of the 
time we beat the Illinois team handily. We out 
weighed them almost ten pounds per man in the line 
and had a faster backfield. Coach Bob Zuppke became 
so enthused with our potentialities he spent more 
time with us than he did with the varsity. It is an ac 
cepted fact the 1922 freshman team was one of the 
strongest Illinois has ever had. Two members of that 
squad besides myself subsequently became All-Amer 
icans. Ralph "Moon" Baker gained his honors at 
Northwestern where he transferred after his fresh 
man year. Tackle Frank Wickhorst, who also left 
Illinois at the end of his first year, went on to become 
an All- American at Annapolis. Although Earl Britton 
failed to win All-American recognition at Illinois, he 
nevertheless is regarded by many to be one of the 
greatest blocking backs and kickers ever developed 
in the Western Conference. 

An extremely hot rivalry existed between the 
varsity and the freshmen in 1922. I remember one 
particular incident involving Roy "Windy" Miller, 
the regular varsity guard, whose constant heckling of 
the freshmen players led to a minor revolt against him. 
During one of the regular varsity-frosh battles, we 
cooked up a play whereby the entire freshman team 
hurled itself en masse at "Windy." The play was so 
successful Miller ended up with a broken nose, a 
bruised body and a more than slightly dented ego. 

33 



However, Coach Zuppke chewed us out plenty for 
that as Miller was needed for an important conference 
game the next Saturday. 

When I was issued my frosh football equipment 
neither the shoes nor the uniform fit me properly. 
Before I could wangle another pair of shoes, I had 
developed corns and blisters on my feet. The number 
on the back of my ill-fitting jersey happened to be 
77. It was just dished out to me, I never asked for it. 
I got to thinking it was pretty lucky and asked to keep 
it permanently when I returned in my sophomore 
year. 

Much credit for the excellent performance of Illi 
nois' 1922 freshman squad must be given to Coach 
Burt Ingwersen. He taught us many of the important 
fundamentals of the game fundamentals that most 
of us missed in high school. Only twenty-six at the 
time, having played his last game as an Illinois line 
man some five years before, Ingwersen was young 
enough to understand our problems yet mature 
enough to cope with them. 

After the freshman football season, I went out for 
intramural track. Teaming up with Larry Wright, a 
high jumper from the Zeta Psi house, we won the in 
tramural cup for our fraternity. I managed to win first 
place in six events in the final meet. In the spring of 
1923 I reported for spring football practice with the 
varsity, which consisted of about nine weeks of hard, 
serious work under Bob Zuppke's tutelage. That spring 
I came to realize more than ever before that no mat- 
34 



ter what your abilities or hopes may be, there is no 
short cut to being a good athlete. 

I'll never forget what George Dawson said to me 
after I rounded out my first year at the university. He 
sat me down one night and cautioned: "Red, I'm con 
vinced you have what it takes to become a great foot 
ball player, but don't ever let it go to your head. 
Never get to the point where you think you're better 
than the next guy, because if you do, you'll never go 
on to realize your full capabilities." Dawson's words 
made an indelible impression on me. 

I reported for fall practice my sophomore year in 
good shape, having worked hard all summer on the 
ice truck. Naturally I hoped to make the first-string 
varsity, but Zuppke gave no indication the previous 
spring whom he would select as his regulars. When the 
season opened, however, I happily found myself in 
the starting line-up. 

Our first game of the 1923 season, on Saturday, 
October 6th, was on old Illinois Field against the 
Nebraska Cornhuskers. Anyone who has ever played 
football knows what goes through a player's mind in 
his first game. I was shaky and nervous and when I 
looked at the opposing players they looked like they 
weighed about three hundred pounds per man. At 
the end of the first quarter Zup called me aside and 
said, "You're leaning, Red, and giving away the plays/' 
It was hard for me to believe this since I was so ex 
cited I didn't know myself where the plays were going. 
In spite of all my fears I had a pretty good day. I scored 

35 



all of Illinois* touchdowns as we beat Nebraska 24-7. 
My first tally was made on a wide thirty-five-yard run 
around right end and I got away for a sixty-yard sprint 
for the second one in the next period. Fullback Earl 
Britton kicked all goals after touchdown and booted a 
twenty-seven-yard field goal in the second quarter. Wal 
ter Eckersall, the one-time Chicago football great turned 
sports writer, predicted in his write-up of the game for 
the Chicago Tribune: "It was a spectacular piece of 
work, the sort expected of a player with the speed of 
the former Wheaton star who has all the earmarks of 
developing into a wonderful player." 

After meeting the Cornhuskers, we took on Butler 
and again won, this time by a 21-7 score. In that con 
test I accounted for two more touchdowns while our 
right guard, "Mush" Crawford, chalked up the other. 
Britton, already beginning to show his phenomenal 
ability as a kicker, booted all three goals. With two 
straight wins under our belts we traveled to Iowa City 
the following week to open our conference schedule 
against Iowa. 

Iowa was a great football team and I wondered if we 
could do as well against them as we did against Ne 
braska and Butler. It was a fierce battle all the way, 
but we finally won the game 9-6 in the closing minutes 
of the last period. I slid over for the touchdown after 
Britton connected with me for four out of five passes. 
When the game was only four minutes old, Britton 
put Illinois ahead 3-0 with a sensational field goal 
from the fifty-three-yard line. I held the ball for Brit 
ton and I can honestly say it gave me my greatest 
36 



thrill in football. There was such power to that kick it 
shot out almost on a line as it cleared the uprights. 

Several hours before the Iowa battle Coach Zuppke 
called his team together for an important chalk talk 
in the ballroom of the Jefferson Hotel. Counting 
noses, he discovered everyone present but Earl Britton. 
When no one could tell where Britton was, Zuppke 
sent Captain Jim McMillen, our left tackle, out to 
look for him. McMillen searched everywhere in the 
hotel until finally one of the elevator operators told 
him he took a big fellow fitting Britton 's description 
up to the roof. Following the tip, the Illinois captain 
found his burly, six-foot-three, 240-pound fullback on 
the roof making airplanes out of hotel stationery. Since 
it was Iowa's Homecoming, a big parade was going on 
in the street below, so Britton scribbled, with school 
boy enthusiasm, "To hell with Iowa" on the wings of 
his airplanes and sailed them out into the crowd. This 
was typical of Britton 's carefree attitude which made 
him a wonderful guy to have around. He always seemed 
to come up with something to take the pressure off the 
team when it was most needed. In the case of the paper 
airplanes, for example, the players got such a laugh 
when they heard about it, it helped them relax and 
lose any tension they might have had before the game. 

The next Saturday we played Northwestern at Cubs 
Park and won by a 29-0 margin. My contribution in 
that game was a ninety-yard run in the first quarter 
when, with Northwestern threatening, I intercepted 
a wildcat pass on our own ten-yard line. Northwestern 
seemed to become so demoralized after that run, they 

37 



appeared to lose their fight. Britton, incidentally, 
kicked one point after touchdown and a field goal from 
the thirty-five-yard line. 

At this stage of the season, newspaper writers began 
referring to me as the Galloping Ghost, the name 
which was to stick with me for the rest of my life. 

After beating Northwestern, we played our tough 
est game of the year against the formidable University 
of Chicago eleven. The game was played to a near- 
capacity crowd of 61,000 people in Champaign on 
November 3rd, 1923, at the opening of Illinois' Me 
morial Stadium. Near the end of the first quarter, I 
intercepted a Chicago pass on our fifteen-yard line 
and ran it back sixty-two yards to their twenty-three- 
yard line, but we failed to score from there. About 
halfway through the third period I made a touchdown 
after a march that Illinois started from our thirty- 
seven-yard line. In that drive Right Halfback Wally 
Mcllwain's line smashes gained steady yardage and I 
made fifty-three yards in seven attempts. Two plays 
before that touchdown, I had crossed the goal line 
from the twenty-yard mark but was ruled out of bounds 
on the seven. Britton added the extra point and when 
neither team scored in the fourth quarter, we topped 
Chicago 7-0. Altogether I gained 173 yards that day in 
seventeen plays. 

After the Chicago battle we whipped Wisconsin on 
our home grounds 10-0. I made the only touchdown 
early in the first quarter after a series of end runs of 
fourteen, twenty-five and twenty-six yards. Britton 
kicked the extra point and a thirty-three-yard field 
38 



goal. In the second period I was nailed hard by a 
tackle and just about made it to half time. I stayed 
out of the game the entire second half. A week later 
Illinois used its subs to take Mississippi A. and M., 
27-0. Neither our Quarterback Harry Hall nor I played, 
but Earl Britton and Wally Mcllwain saw action for a 
little more than a quarter. Britton was in long enough 
to add two more kicks after touchdown to his already 
impressive total. 

We wound up the 1923 season on November 24th 
at Columbus by defeating the Buckeyes from Ohio 
State 9-0. For three quarters we battled to a standstill 
as Ohio State played inspired ball. They gained con 
siderable yardage and threatened often with a for 
midable passing attack. Their key players, Quarterback 
Hoge Workman and Right Halfback Ollie Klee, 
played brilliantly both on offense and defense. Illinois' 
offense, on the other hand, couldn't get rolling. It 
seemed as though the Buckeyes were laying for me, 
for every time I carried the ball they swarmed over 
me like a hoard of buzzards. Britton's movements 
were also especially well guarded. In the final period, 
however, the tide swiftly turned. Britton kicked a 
thirty-two-yard field goal and several minutes later I 
broke away for thirty-four yards and a touchdown. 
Britton narrowly missed the point after touchdown, 
but we had accounted for all the points needed for 
victory. 

By subduing Minnesota 10-0 the same day we de 
feated Ohio State, Michigan finished the season with 
four conference wins and no defeats to share the Big 

39 



Ten Championship with Illinois. Our record was five 
wins and no losses. The previous year Michigan earned 
a tie for the title with Iowa. 

At the end of my sophomore season I led the Big 
Ten scorers with twelve touchdowns and seventy-two 
points. Halfback Earl Martineau of Minnesota was 
runner-up with seven touchdowns and one kick after 
touchdown for forty-three points. Earl Britton scored 
twenty-six points that season with eleven kicks after 
touchdown and five field goals. Between Britton and 
myself we accounted for ninety-eight of our team's 
136 points. 

Captain Jim McMillen, Illinois' fine tackle, was 
listed on practically every All- Western eleven in 1923, 
as was Frank Rokusek, our left end. For my work that 
year, Walter Camp, the father of intercollegiate foot 
ball, named me as the left halfback on his All- Amer 
ican Team, Camp commented: 

Red Grange of Illinois is not only a line smasher 
of great power, but also a sterling open-field run 
ner and has been the great factor in the offense 
of Illinois through the middlewest conference. He 
is classed as the most dangerous man in that section 
and probably the country over, when all kinds of 
running must be considered. 

After the football season I decided to rest up for a 

few months and concentrate more on my studies. But 

when spring rolled around I couldn't resist the urge 

to go out for baseball. Although my hitting left much 

40 



to be desired, I became Illinois' regular center fielder. 
My main assets as a ballplayer were speed, a strong 
arm and the ability to field well. In my junior year, 
baseball coach Carl Lundgren had me alternating 
between the pitching mound and the outfield, and I 
earned a 1-1 record as a pitcher. At the end of my 
second season of college baseball I was offered a big- 
league tryout with the Boston Braves, but I turned it 
down because I didn't feel in my own heart I was good 
enough to make the grade as a big-leaguer. I certainly 
had no ambition to make a career in the minor leagues. 
Besides, there was still another year of college football 
competition left for me and I didn't want to pass that 
up. 



41 



5 



Illinois vs. the Conference' 



MOST FOOTBALL FANS are probably aware of the 
existence of football scouts. They know the function of 
these scouts is to observe and study the opposition so 
the teams they work for can, as a result of their find 
ings and recommendations, properly prepare a defense 
and attack. And it is accepted as a fact that many foot 
ball games have been won because of a scout's astute 
observations. 

To fully appreciate the enormous contribution a 
scout can make to a team's success one must see what 
goes into an actual scouting report. This is well-nigh 
impossible, however, for a scouting report with its 
diagrams, charts and detailed evaluation of strategy is 
about as confidential as Army Intelligence and FBI 
documents. 

Even players rarely get an opportunity to see a 
scouting report, as the results of these reports are usu 
ally interpreted to them by their coaches. The first 
time I saw a scout's handiwork was many years after 
I left Illinois when Tucker Smith, then head trainer 
at Ohio State, privately presented me with his school's 
original scouting report on the 1923 Illinois eleven. 
42 



Being an old friend from the days when he was as 
sistant trainer at Illinois under Matt Bullock, he took 
the report from the files himself thinking I might like 
to have it. I might add there was no breach of ethics 
involved, because at the time he gave it to me all the 
players written up in the report had long since gradu 
ated. 

Titled "Illinois vs. the Conference," the Ohio State 
report is a completely objective appraisal of Illinois' 
great team of 1923. Its contents are, I believe, worthy 
of inclusion in a book such as this. For the benefit of 
the vast majority of football followers who are not 
usually concerned with the highly technical aspects of 
the game, I have selected for publication only that 
material in the report which might be of interest. 

Beginning with an analysis of our offensive 
strength, the report read: "The Illinois offense this 
year is built around "Red" Grange and Earl Britton. 
Grange carries the ball practically 75 per cent of the 
time on short and wide end runs, off tackle, and cut 
backs. His end running attacks are successful due 
to two things: one, a wonderful superman who uses 
all the tricks of a good halfback's stock in trade; and 
two, some extremely effective interference and block 
ing. It seems as though the Illinois players sense that 
certain feeling when blocking for Grange. They block 
with much more vim and vigor for him than any other 
Illinois back. 

"If the Illinois end running attack of Grange is 
stopped, they will resort to their desperation passes 
from Britton to Grange like they did in the Iowa 

43 



game. And there again, this man Grange becomes a 
nightmare. Against Iowa, Grange cut across back of 
the line of the defensive team and took passes on the 
dead run high over his head. Down the field under 
long passes and on short passes over the line he con 
sistently went up in the air and caught the ball al 
though surrounded by three or four Hawkeyes. 

"It is recommended that if we can stop Illinois' end 
running and they then resort to this Britton to Grange 
combination, we spot a floating pass defender who will 
cover Grange wherever he goes. 

"Britton is a long and accurate passer, but his chief 
offensive strength lies in his wonderful and powerful 
toe. He is an excellent punter. His punts in the second 
half of the Wisconsin game were well placed, and he 
repelled the Badger attack by keeping them fighting 
down on their twenty-yard line. He gets his punts 
away fast and they are always high. He never seems 
to be hurried and has not had one punt blocked this 
season. 

"In addition, Britton is the best place kicker in the 
conference. Not only do his place kicks have accuracy, 
but they have more distance than anyone who has 
been kicking in late years in the conference. His place 
kicks are also always away fast and none of them have 
been blocked this season. We can expect that when the 
Illini get past mid-field they will have a good chance to 
score by turning this Big Bertha loose at our goal posts. 

"The Illinois line bucking attack is done entirely 
by Wally Mcllwain and Heine Schultz, and cannot 
be taken lightly. Both of these boys are terrific line 
44 



buckers, but due to having an excellent open field 
runner in Grange, Zuppke is not specializing in line 
attack to any great extent this year. They have dis 
covered ground can be made easier and quicker by 
Grange on his end runs/' 

The special abilities o our key team members such 
as Captain Jim McMillen and "Windy" Miller, left 
and right tackles, respectively; Wally Mcllwain, right 
halfback; Harry "Swede" Hall, quarterback; Earl 
Britton, fullback; Frank Rokusek, left end; V. Green, 
center; "Mush" Crawford and Dick Hall, left and right 
guards, respectively; Ted Richards and Stub Muhl, 
alternates at right end; and Heine Schultz and Rune 
Clark, substitute halfbacks, were individually dis 
cussed in the report. 

McMillen and Rokusek were acknowledged to be 
the best in the conference at their positions. It was 
brought out that Mcllwain had made considerable 
yardage in some games as a driver and plunger. He 
was especially commended for "terrific bucking in the 
Nebraska game against a team that has such a large 
and powerful line/' Harry Hall was described as "the 
brains of the Illinois outfit, who in addition to being 
a good quarterback is an excellent interferer and 
blocker. Hall is not afraid to open up when it be 
comes necessary and is the type of field director who 
will use plays that are going good. When he gets 
Grange going on his end run stuff, he does not hes 
itate to use him/' 

About Britton, it was pointed out further: "His 
greatest value to the Illinois team is his wonderful 

45 



defensive strength. He backs up the Illini line from a 
point two yards back and is a tower of strength on all 
line plays and end runs. Britton is today the best de 
fensive fullback in the Conference/* 

The report described me in this manner: " 'Red' 
Grange. Weight about 170 Ibs. 6 ft. or a little better. 
Tall, slender, big boned, big feet, shifty and elusive. 
Grange is Number 77 and is the life of the Illinois 
team. When Grange is in, the team is a world beater. 
Grange dashes for wide sweeping end runs, short cut- 
ins or slashes off tackle and an occasional cut-back over 
center. His sweeps around end are extremely spectac 
ular. He is able to outspeed tacklers who come thru 
the line and once he is past the line of scrimmage, is 
the most difficult man to get down the Conference has 
seen in several years. His speed due to his long stride 
is very deceiving. 

4 In the Iowa game, Grange asserted himself and 
beat the Iowa team by his sheer ability to catch passes 
at any speed, angle or height. In the Wisconsin game, 
his showing simply astounded the scouts, tor his runs 
were only stopped by the Wisconsin team forcing him 
out ot bounds, and none of them were for less than 
11 yards. In this game, Grange passed on two occa 
sions; one from his running formation out to the side 
to Mcllwain and another from the punt formation, a 
screen pass to Right End Ted Richards. It is also said 
that Grange kicks quite a bit, but due to the excellent 
way that Mr. Britton takes care of the kicking, it is 
highly improbable that Grange will do any punting. 

"While Grange has shown remarkable speed, dodg- 
46 



ing, hip shift, stop up, change of pace, and other abili 
ties, yet when he is caught by several tacklers, the man 
simply puts on steam and drives and whirls in an even 
better manner than Earl Martineau, the great Gopher, 
and leaves a wake of would-be tacklers strewn in his 
path behind him/' 

I strongly dispute the reference in the report to my 
big feet. I wear a size nine shoe today, as I did then, 
and this is actually small for a man of my size. The only 
way I can imagine I got the reputation for having big 
feet is that Zuppke speaking at a banquet earlier that 
season jokingly said, "Grange's big feet are two princi 
pal reasons for his being hard to knock down/' 

Certain minor weaknesses in our defensive play were 
also noted and brought out in the report. However, 
for the most part there was nothing but high praise 
for our all-round team play. "The team is extremely 
high-class in end running, kicking, place kicking, buck 
ing, and passing and pass receiving on the offense. 
They have a good line, good secondary defenders and 
tacklers on the defense. Their punt receiving is well 
taken care of by a dangerous man and their punt 
covering ably done by two good ends and the center on 
the first wave and a tenacious line and backfield coming 
down on the second wave. The administration of their 
plays and attack is high-class and their blocking inter 
ference is good. Thus, it would seem that Illinois is a 
really good team, with no really great outstanding 
weakness/' 

It concluded in the do-or-die college spirit. "To beat 
this team we will have to rise to heights that we have 

47 



not risen to before and stop this super attack. We 
shall simply have to beat down their defense by a 
terrific, more than just ordinary man power, offense. 
Our team must play and can play this way if they 
key themselves up to desperation. This is the only 
type of football that will beat the Illini." 

As I said earlier, when Illinois played the Buckeyes 
in Columbus on November 24, 1923, we had a real 
battle on our hands even though we won 9-0. It is 
clear Ohio State made good use of the information 
gained from their scouting report on us. 



48 



6 



Four Touchdowns in Twelve Minutes 



THE ILLINOIS VS. MICHIGAN GAME of October 

18, 1924, actually began many months before the 
opening kickoff. We hadn't played the Wolverines 
the previous season, but wound up sharing the 1923 
conference title with five victories and no defeats 
apiece. With justifiable pride each school eagerly 
looked forward to this game as the acid test to de 
termine which team was really the champion. But 
Michigan and her athletic director, Fielding Yost, 
didn't actually consider us a serious threat. They fig 
ured on beating us handily and made the point well 
known to the press. 

No sooner had school let out in June when Zup 
started to go to work on getting us keyed up for 
the impending contest. Throughout the summer vaca 
tion he sent a continuous flow of letters to me and the 
rest of the team about how Michigan expected to romp 
over us. By the time we returned to the campus for the 
fall semester we were all so mad that beating the Yost- 
men from Ann Arbor became the most important issue 
in our lives. 

One of the things Zup wrote us about concerned 

49 



the plans Yost had for me. When asked by a reporter, 
4 'What about Grange?" Michigan 's headman answered, 
"Mr, Grange will be a carefully watched man every 
time he takes the ball. There will be just about eleven 
clean, hard Michigan tacklers headed for him at the 
same time. I know he is a great runner, but great run 
ners usually have the hardest time gaining ground 
when met by special preparation/' 

The special preparation Yost had in mind was to 
encourage my assuming an offensive role as frequently 
as possible so I could be hit hard and often and event 
ually worn down. This strategy made sense from Michi 
gan's viewpoint. It worked successfully the year before 
when the Wolverines bottled up Earl Martineau, 
Minnesota's great running halfback. 

During the summer I worked hard at becoming a 
passer. Zup gave me several footballs to take home and 
practice with. He stressed the importance of my de 
veloping into a passer so the opposition would not be 
sure when I took the ball whether I would pass or 
run with it. This way I could increase my effectiveness 
as a runner and also make my work easier. 

I started out by winging baseballs to my brother 
Garland for hours at a time until I developed near- 
perfect control and the ability to throw on the run. 
Then I switched to throwing a football. It got so I 
could pass with a high degree of accuracy at twenty or 
thirty yards. 

Zup's determination to make a passer out of me 
might have had something to do with an opinion ex- 
50 



pressed by the University of Michigan's student paper 
following my sophomore season in 1923. 

When the Michigan Daily picked an All-American 
eleven that year, I only rated a berth on the second 
team. That experts like Walter Camp and Walter 
Eckersall regarded me a unanimous choice for All- 
American halfback did not alter their selection. The 
Michigan organ claimed: "All Grange can do is run." 
Zup defended my honor with the reply: "All Galli- 
Curci can do is sing." It is true, however, that up until 
my junior year I was strictly a runner. But running 
does win football games and I tried my darnedest to 
prove that to Michigan when we played them. 

The day before the Michigan encounter our team 
was quartered as usual at the Champaign Country 
Club where we held final drills on the soft turf in front 
of the clubhouse. Afterward, at dinner, we ate large 
portions of rare steak then settled back to relax in 
secluded luxury. It had been a tough, grueling week 
putting the finishing touches on our attack for Michi 
gan, but now we felt ready for the important game 
we had pointed to for nearly five months. 

On the eve of battle Zup did his customary job of 
bolstering our confidence and keeping us in high 
spirits. We never really knew how worried he was 
about the condition of two of his key blockers. Cap 
tain Frank Rokusek, the left end, still had the leg 
injury that kept him out of the Butler contest the 
week before, and Right Halfback Wallie Mcllwain 
had to be put to bed with a stomach disorder. Al- 

51 



though we had little difficulty defeating Nebraska and 
Butler in the first two games of the season, Zup's anxiety 
was not relieved. He knew the Wolverines would be 
tough and wanted to win against them in the worst 
way. 

The Michigan contest was the occasion of the dedica 
tion of the University of Illinois' mammoth Memorial 
Stadium. Over 67,000 fans were on hand and it was 
estimated 20,000 more were unable to get in. It was 
the largest crowd ever assembled in the Midwest for a 
football game. 

There were impressive pre-game ceremonies includ 
ing a dedication speech by Illinois' President David 
Kinley and a parade of students who were ex-service 
men. At the conclusion a bugler blew taps for the 
Illini who lost their lives in World War L Thousands 
of fans in Chicago unable to see the proceedings and 
the game which followed, got Sportscaster Quinn 
Ryan's eye-witness account via radio station WGN. 
It marked the first time an Illinois football game had 
been broadcast. 

The playing field was in perfect condition. Re 
sembling a well-kept golf fairway, it was a beautiful 
emerald green. The day was clear and sunny. Typical 
Indian-summer weather, but much too warm for foot 
ball. 

As we sat around in the locker room listening to 
last-minute instructions before game time, Zup sud 
denly turned to assistant coach Justa Lindgren and 
asked, "Anything in the rule book that says we can't 
remove our stockings?" A quick look revealed no such 
52 



regulation. "Okay fellas, let's take off the stockings. 
It's hot out there and without those heavy socks you'll 
feel a lot fresher and cooler." 

We were stunned at Zup's odd request and momen 
tarily balked at the idea. A football team had never 
before appeared in a game without full-length stock 
ings. We were afraid we'd get our legs skinned and 
scratched without them. But when Zup barked, 
"C'mon, let's get going we don't have much time left," 
we peeled them off in fast order. 

When we trotted out on the field for the start of the 
game, Director Yost and his coach George Little im 
mediately spotted our bare legs and became suspicious. 
Since we had worn our stockings in the pre-game prac 
tice they figured this was a Zuppke trick. That in 
desperation to win we had put grease on our legs so 
we could not be tackled low. 

Yost and Little protested to the officials, but after 
consultation the latter agreed there was nothing they 
could do about it. Continuing to make an issue of the 
possibility our legs were greased, it was suggested they 
find out for themselves. 

In full view of the tremendous crowd, Yost ordered 
Coach Little and the Michigan team captain, Herb 
Steger, to feel the legs of the Illinois players for grease. 
An inspection of the entire team naturally revealed 
nothing but hair and muscle on our lower extremities. 

Throughout their long and brilliant careers a great 
personal rivalry existed between Bob Zuppke and 
Fielding Yost, and each always regarded the other with 
suspicion. 

53 



In 1922, when Illinois last played host to Michigan, 
Zup found a penny on the locker-room floor shortly 
before game time. Thinking it might bring his team 
luck he put the coin in his pocket. When the Illini 
went down in defeat 24-0, Zup began having his doubts 
about that penny. 

By coincidence, Zup again found a one-cent piece 
on the floor of the locker room the day of this latest 
Michigan-Illinois contest. He was now convinced it 
was Yost who in each case planted the copper coin 
for bad luck. Accordingly Zup wasted little time in 
hurling the supposed charm out of the window. 

Getting back to Zuppke's bare legs innovation, 
when the defiant Wolverines were convinced no trick 
ery was involved, they finally took the field. Illinois' 
Captain Rokusek won the toss and elected to receive 
with Michigan defending the south goal. The first 
stockingless football game in history was on. 

Steger of Michigan kicked off deep, and I caught the 
ball on the fly in front of the goal posts on our five- 
yard line. Running straight down center, I cut wide 
to the right to avoid a host of tacklers at about the 
thirty-yard line. From the extreme west side I cut 
back across the field and headed up the east sidelines, 
crossing the goal line just a fraction of a second after 
Wolverine quarterback Tod Rockwell made a frantic 
dive to get me. Earl Britton kicked the extra point and 
we led 7-0. 

Michigan's next kickoff was again long and I carried 
fifteen yards to our twenty-yard line. Illinois was pe 
nalized for illegal use of the hands. On the next play 
54 



Mcllwain bucked for two yards, then Britton got off 
a short punt to our own thirty-five-yard line. Rockwell 
of Michigan passed to the fullback Miller for nine yards 
and the latter added two more on the next play for a 
first down. Steger gained two more yards through left 
tackle but lost two on another attempt through the 
right side of the line. A forward pass by Rockwell was 
incomplete. On fourth down, after fumbling a place 
kick, Rockwell was trapped and thrown for a loss on 
our thirty-yard line. 

After we took over the ball on downs, Mcllwain hit 
right guard for a three-yard gain. On the next play I 
got away for another score as I stepped around left 
end, cut back, then circled behind my interference. 
When Britton made the extra point we led 14-0. 

I took Steger 's third kickoff and ran it back to our 
twenty-yard line where I was tackled by the left 
guard Slaughter. After a five-yard penalty against 
Michigan for an offside, I picked up seven yards 
through right tackle. Britton punted sixty yards on 
third down and Rokusek downed the ball on Michi 
gan's twenty-yard line. After a two-yard gain by Steger^ 
Rockwell kicked back to our forty-three-yard line. 

Following Mcllwain's plunge through left tackle for 
a yard, I was given the ball on Illinois' forty-four-yard 
line and took off around right end. When my blockers 
allowed the Michigan secondary to get outside of 
them, I cut back to the center of the field where I had 
a clear path to the goal line. Britton missed the point 
after touchdown and the score was Illinois 20, Michi 
gan 0. 

55 



When Steger kicked off for the fourth time the ball 
sailed beyond the goal and we took over on our 
twenty-yard line. Trying to break through the right 
side of the line, I was thrown for a five-yard loss. Brit- 
ton then got off a long punt that was taken by Rock 
well, but when he fumbled Rokusek recovered on 
Michigan's forty-five-yard line. 

On the next play we tried the identical maneuver 
that resulted in my last touchdown. Running wide 
around right end I cut back when the Michigan sec 
ondary was again drawn over to the sidelines. After 
side-stepping a few stray would-be tacklers in mid-field, 
I found easy sailing to another tally. Britton's kick was 
good and we led 27-0. 

The fifth kickoff by Steger was taken by Mcllwain 
and he advanced the ball to our twenty-seven-yard 
line. Mcllwain then smacked through left tackle for 
seven yards and I got loose for nineteen more around 
right end. The latter play was nullified when we were 
penalized five yards for being offside. 

Rockwell momentarily fumbled Britton's forty-five- 
yard punt, but recovered on the Wolverines' twenty- 
eight-yard line. At this juncture our quarterback, 
Harry "Swede" Hall, called for a time out. 

When Matt Bullock, the Illinois trainer, came in 
with the water, he asked me how I felt. I answered 
truthfully, "I'm so dog-tired I can hardly stand up. 
Better get me outa here." With three minutes left in 
the first quarter, Zup obliged by sending Ray Gallivan 
in to replace me. 

As I trotted wearily off the field the crowd cheered 
56 



wildly. They continued to yell, stamp and applaud for 
several minutes. I was grateful for their acclaim, but 
much too exhausted to fully appreciate the thrill of 
such a tribute. 

Besides the four touchdown runs of ninety-five, 
sixty-seven, fifty-six and forty-five yards, I covered 
about another forty yards for a total of 303 yards in 
the first twelve minutes of play. Nevertheless, the first 
thing Zup said to me when I came over to the bench 
was: "Shoulda had another touchdown Red. You 
didn't cut at the right time on that last play.*' That was 
typical of the psychology Zup always used on his play 
ers to prevent their becoming cocky or overconfident. 

Against Michigan I cut back for the first time in my 
college career, and it was the greatest single factor in 
my being able to break away consistently for long 
runs. In planning their defense, the Wolverines 
counted on my following the pattern of my sophomore 
season and the game with Butler the week previous. 
That pattern was to head straight down the sidelines 
after skirting an end. When I discarded that style of 
running and used the cut back, Michigan had no de 
fense worked out to cope with it. 

However, it is a fact the success I enjoyed at the 
expense of Michigan could not have been accomplished 
without the powerful blocking of Rokusek, Hall, 
Britton, Mcllwain and the rest of the Illinois team. 
Also, I have always felt the confusion that resulted 
when we appeared on the field without stockings en 
abled us to get the jump on the disturbed Yostmen 
before they settled down. 

57 



I remained out of the game the entire second quar 
ter. Steger scored and Rockwell kicked the extra point 
for Michigan in that period and at half time we were 
ahead 27-7. Between halves all was quiet and calm 
in the locker room despite our sizable lead over the 
proud Wolverines. Just as always, Zup went about 
the serious business of pointing out our mistakes 
and plotted our defenses for the second half of the 
contest. 

In the third period I threw three passes good for 
eighteen yards and accounted for eighty-five yards by 
rushing, including a touchdown from the Wolverines' 
twelve-yard line. Britton's kick for the extra point was 
wide. The Scoreboard read Illinois -33, Michigan -7 at 
the end of the quarter. 

The Michigan defense tightened considerably as 
the game progressed, but midway in the fourth period 
I shot a short pass from their eighteen-yard line to 
Marion Leonard, Mcllwain's substitute at right half 
back, and he went over for another tally. Britton missed 
the kick again and it was 39-7. 

The Wolverines scored their second touchdown 
late in the final quarter when a foul called against us 
on Steger 's kickoff gave them possession of the ball on 
our thirteen-yard line. From there Steger went over 
after three consecutive attempts and Rockwell added 
the point after touchdown making the final score 39- 
14. 

Bedlam broke loose in our locker room after the 
game. The place was jam-packed with excited reporters 
and photographers. Everyone was yelling, jumping up 
58 



and down and running around slapping everyone else 
on the back. All I wanted to do was lie down and rest, 
but the newspapermen proceeded to surround me and 
ask an endless number of questions. It was nearly an 
hour after all the other players had departed before 
I was able to tear myself away. Even then I found it 
necessary to leave by a side door to avoid a large num 
ber of Illini rooters waiting for me on the outside. 

When I got back to the fraternity house the place 
was in an uproar. The walls were literally bulging with 
alums, friends, Zeta Psi's from the Michigan chapter 
and more newspapermen. Escaping from all this posed 
a greater problem for me than eluding Michigan 
tacklers. 

Finally, I managed to get up to my room and, after 
changing clothes, slipped out the kitchen door with 
one of my more understanding fraternity brothers. We 
had dinner by ourselves, then took in a movie. Return 
ing about ten-thirty that night and finding conditions 
somewhat more peaceful, I went straight to bed. 



59 



7 

My Toughest College Game 



BEFORE OUR ROUSING VICTORY over Michigan^ we 
opened the 1 924 season with a 9-6 conquest of Nebraska, 
thanks to a field goal by Earl Britton, and the foLlowirmg 
week blasted Butler 40-0. In the Butler contest I tallierd 
twice in the sixteen minutes I played, as did Ray <JaJ- 
livan who replaced me. The week after we stopperd 
the Wolverines 39-14, we trounced De Pauiv 45-0, I 
didn't get into the De Pauw fracas but returned to 
action a week later when we humbled Iowa 36-C, 
Against the Hawkeyes I carried the ball thirty-seven 
times, scoring twice and racking up a total cf 1S6 
yards. My longest runs in that game were eighteen, 
nineteen and twenty yards. I also threw three passes 
that netted eighty-six yards. 

With tour straight wins under our belts we pre 
pared to meet the University of Chicago eleven at 
Stagg Field on Saturday, November 8th. Up to that 
date the Maroons had defeated Indiana and Pmrdime 
and were held to a tie by Ohio State. Earlier in time 
season they won trom Brown, but lost to Missouri in 
nonconference tilts. On the strength of the two rec 
ords, Illinois was installed as a 3-1 favorite to whip 
Chicago. 
60 



Coach Amos Alonzo Stagg had his Chicago warriors 
pointing to the Illinois game all season just as we 
pointed to Michigan. The Maroons were highly keyed 
up for us while the psychological peak we attained 
in the clash with the Wolverines was fast on the down 
grade. They were also out to revenge the 7-0 licking 
Illinois handed them the previous season. No one 
knew better what we were up against than our coach, 
Bob Zuppke. The day before the battle he gloomily 
told the press, "It is impossible for me to key up my 
team, unless, of course, it should lose a game. Right 
now Chicago has all the advantage. That team can be 
keyed up to play us, while all I can do is ask my team 
to show the pep it showed against Michigan and 
Iowa. You see," he continued, "a team under intensive 
coaching about this time begins to lose team interest. 
Too much is taken for granted and a squad is likely to 
slump if it runs into a bit of bad luck/' 

The Illinois-Chicago rivalry which began in 1892 
always attracted great interest. The 1924 meeting of 
the two teams, which was the occasion of Chicago's 
Homecoming, was sold out weeks in advance. On the 
day of battle, forty thousand fans jammed Stagg Field 
to its absolute capacity. Many more thousands milled 
around the streets outside the stadium's walls hoping 
to pick up scalped tickets at the last minute. Scalpers 
were asking and getting from twenty dollars to one 
hundred dollars per ticket, but there just weren't 
enough to go around. For the benefit of those unable 
to gain admittance, several students perched them- 

61 



selves on the walls of Stagg Field and boomed the de 
tails of the game through megaphones. 

Coach Stagg thought he had the perfect strategy 
to stop Illinois. Unlike Fielding Yost's plan tor his 
Michigan squad, the Chicago mentor instructed his 
players to press for the offensive from the opening 
whistle and do everything possible to keep us trom 
getting our hands on the ball. He figured his best 
chance for victory were if his forwards could outplay 
our line and open up holes through tackle or guard 
for the Maroon's great fullback plays. With a line that 
outweighed Illinois by almost fifteen pounds per man 
and boasting three of the conference's best linemen in 
Captain Franklin Gowdy and Joe Pondelick at guards 
and Bob Henderson at tackle, Stagg was on the right 
track. 

The game started with Chicago winning the toss 
and electing to defend the south goal. Earl Britton 
kicked off and the Maroons brought the ball up to 
their twenty-eight-yard line. From that point on, Illi 
nois had possession of the ball tor just one play in the 
first period when Britton kicked after Austin Mc- 
Carty, the busy Maroon fullback, tumbled on our ten- 
yard marker. McCarty plunged for practically all of 
his team's yardage until he tumbled and continued 
making steady gains when the Maroons took over 
again following Britton's punt. He finally went over 
for Chicago's first score and little Bob Curley, the 
Marcons' 135-pound quarterback, converted with a 
drop kick. In that opening quarter McCarty carried 
62 



the ball fourteen times for a total of eighty-three 
yards. 

The first quarter ended with Chicago ahead 7-0 and 
the ball resting on our one-yard line. On the first play 
of the second period Right Halfback Harry Thomas 
crashed through for his team's second tally. Curley, 
faking another drop kick, passed to the right end, 
Harrison Barnes, in the end zone, and Chicago led 
14-0. 

Illinois finally got the opportunity to assume an 
offensive role when we elected to receive after the 
Stagg men's second touchdown. Beginning a march 
from our twenty-five-yard line, where Illinois* quarter 
back Harry Hall brought Chicago's kickoff, we worked 
our way to our first touchdown. In that scoring drive 
I toted the pigskin five times for twenty yards, threw 
three passes good for forty-seven yards and went over 
for the tally. When Britton booted the extra point, 
the score stood 14-7 in favor of Chicago. 

In the latter half of the second quarter, both teams 
scored again. Chicago crossed the goal line first and 
we scored minutes later in a drive that began from our 
twenty-six-yard line. I made the second touchdown 
after carrying the ball nine times from scrimmage 
for forty yards and catching two passes that accounted 
for forty-four yards. As both Chicago and Illinois 
added the kicks after touchdown, the Maroons led 
21-14 at half time. 

In the locker room between halves, Zuppke used all 
his powers of salesmanship and psychology to get us 

63 



back into the game. He made us ashamed, sore and 
determined. I particularly remember the reference 
he made to the first quarter defensive play of our usu 
ally dependable fullback Earl Britton who absorbed 
considerable punishment yet was helpless in backing 
up the line against those powerful fullback thrusts of 
McCarty. Zup said to him, "What were you doing out 
there, Britton? You looked just like a guy standing up 
on the field playing a piano. Instead of hitting those 
guys hard you were pushing them away with your 
finger tips." Britton got so sore at Zup's remark he al 
most fractured the first Maroon who came his way at 
the start of the second half. 

Early in the third period Illinois tied the score at 
21-21 when I raced eighty yards for a touchdown. 
Taking the pigskin on the first play, after a Chicago 
punt to our twenty-yard marker, I shot around left 
end and down the side lines, then cut back through a 
maze of tacklers toward the center of the field and 
over the goal line. Britton added the extra point. Later 
that same quarter, McCarty, who remained out of the 
game the second period, returned to action and picked 
up seventeen yards in three attempts. In the fourth 
quarter, the 176-pound McCarty continued to pile up 
yardage by plowing through the line four times for 
another eighteen yards. No one could stop him. He 
was a battering ram that day if I ever saw one. 
It seemed that every time McCarty carried the ball he 
made at least five yards. For his brilliant work against 
Illinois, the Maroon fullback was nicknamed Five 
Yards McCarty, and gained football immortality. 
64 



With both teams tied going into the final period, 
the pressure was really on. Early in the quarter I made 
a thirty-three-yard dash around right end and a few 
plays later added nine more, but we eventually lost 
the ball on downs. Then, in the last few minutes of the 
game, with Chicago threatening, our right end, Chuck 
Kassel, intercepted an enemy pass on our ten-yard 
line. On the next play I took the ball and set out in 
a wide circle around left end and went fifty-one yards 
before being forced out of bounds by Bob Curley. 
With what seemed like a first down on Chicago's thirty- 
nine-yard line and nearly two minutes of playing time 
remaining, Illinois fans went wild at the prospect 
of our winning the hard-fought battle with a touch 
down or a field goal. But the cheers soon turned to 
bitter moans when Illinois was penalized for offensive 
holding and my run was nullified. Instead of lining up 
on the Maroons' thirty-nine-yard line, we found our 
selves on our one-yard marker as a result of the penalty. 
That ended any chance we might have had for victory. 
We fought desperately to regain the precious lost yard 
age, but all we could do this time was get up to the 
sixteen-yard line where Britton was forced to kick on 
fourth down. As his punt sailed into the air, the gun 
went off and the game ended in a 21-21 tie. 

The Illinois-Chicago classic of 1924 was the toughest 
football game I ever played in college. Every time I 
was tackled I was hit hard by two or three men. At 
one point in the game I was so exhausted I fell flat on 
my face as the Maroons were running off a play. I was 
no exception, for the entire Illinois team took a terrific 

65 



beating. I don't believe the Illini in my day had ever 
been in such a ferocious football game. Chicago, as I 
said earlier in this chapter, was a big, bruising team that 
played no open football. They would simply concen 
trate on plowing through tackle or guard with those 
overpowering fullback plays. In fact, they didn't at 
tempt one pass in their clash with us. Illinois' offense, 
on the other hand, was based on deception. We tried 
to deceive the ends and line backers by pulling them 
out of position. It was a great study in contrasting foot 
ball strategies. 

One week after facing Chicago, a battered, weary 
band of Illinois athletes traveled up to Minneapolis 
to play Minnesota. The Gophers had yet to win their 
first conference game, having lost two and tied one. 
A victory over Illinois could salvage an otherwise dis 
mal season. Led by Left Halfback Clarence Schutte, 
who made all of his team's touchdowns, Minnesota 
waged a hard, aggressive battle and walloped us 20-7. 
Illinois' lone tally came early in the first period when 
I swept ten yards around right end after we had 
marched from the Gophers' forty-two-yard stripe. Al 
though I rang up our only score, I was completely 
bottled up in that contest. I figured in about twelve 
plays, but failed to make much yardage. The Minnesota 
encounter was just too much for us after what we 
had been through against Michigan and Chicago. In 
the third period a severe shoulder injury forced me 
to retire from the game. I hurt the shoulder when a 
Gopher player piled on me after I had intercepted a 
Minnesota pass and was thrown out of bounds. Harry 
66 



Hall, our quarterback, had to be taken out at the start 
of the second quarter when he hurt his collarbone. 
Following my injury and a resultant Minnesota pen 
alty, I stayed in the game for two more plays. First I 
completed an eleven-yard pass, but when I attempted 
to throw again couldn't get the ball away and was 
knocked for a nine-yard loss. My arm felt limp and I 
couldn't raise it. Zup, noticing something was wrong, 
immediately signaled our quarterback to call time. 
Trotting out on the field, trainer Matt Bullock took 
one look at me and ordered me out of the contest. The 
injury was serious enough to keep me out of the sea 
son's finale with Ohio State the following week. 

While we played Minnesota, Chicago was battling 
it out against Northwestern at Stagg Field. They were 
tied 0-0 near the end of the last quarter when the 
Maroons' coach sent in a sub to notify Quarterback 
Bob Curley that the Gophers were giving Illinois a 
shellacking. That did it. Fully aware that a victory over 
the Purple meant they stood a good chance of taking 
the Big Ten title, Chicago worked desperately to rack 
up a score They got as far as Northwestern J s twenty- 
two-yard line when Curley put himself on the spot by 
electing to try for a field goal. Despite the tremendous 
pressure of the moment, he executed a perfect drop 
kick that cut the uprights in half. Curley 's kick not 
only won the game for Chicago 3 to 0, but ultimately 
the undisputed Conference Championship. For al 
though Illinois licked Ohio State 7-0 the next week 
and Chicago was held to a tie by Wisconsin, the Ma 
roons' record of three wins, no losses and three ties 

67 



was still the best percentage in the conference. Illinois 
was the runner-up with three wins, one loss and one 
tie. Counting our three nonconference games, our 
over-all record for the 1924 season was six wins, one 
loss and one tie. 

At the close of my junior year I had accounted for 
thirteen touchdowns and seventy-eight points in the 
six games I participated in, to lead the Big Ten in 
scoring for the second straight year. In naming me 
again for his All-American squad, Walter Camp gen 
erously wrote: 

Harold Grange is the marvel of this year's (1924) 
backfield. His work in the Michigan game was a 
revelation, but his performance in the Chicago 
game went even further when by his play run 
ning and forward passing he accounted for some 
450 yards of territory. He is elusive, has a baffling 
change of pace, a good straight arm and finally 
seems in some way to get a map of the field at start 
ing and then threads his way through his oppo 
nents* 



68 



8 



Illinois Invades the East 



ILLINI ROOTERS had little to look forward to at 
the start of the 1925 season. Coach Zuppke summed 
up the problem that faced us that year when he told 
reporters, "It's going to be some job to fill the places 
of the experienced players who were lost to us by 
graduation/' The players he referred to were Frank 
Rokusek, captain and end of the 1924 squad, Dick 
Hall, tackle, Lou Slimmer and Roy Miller, guards, 
Gil Roberts, center, and Wallie Mcllwain and 
Heinie Schultz, backs. To make matters worse, Harry 
Hall, our star quarterback for the past two seasons, 
could not be counted on for regular duty due to the 
injury he received to his collarbone in the Minnesota 
battle. My brother Garland, who had been a standout 
halfback on the freshman team in 1924 and was ex 
pected to win a regular berth on the varsity, with 
drew from school shortly before the season got under 
way as a result of an injury sustained in practice. 

The only returning regulars in the line were Chuck 
Brown at right tackle and Stub Muhl and Chuck Kas- 
sel, ends. Besides the handicapped Harry Hall, Earl 
Britton and I were the only backfield starters around 
from the previous campaign, yet Zup was forced to 

69 



shift Britton from his fullback spot to right guard in 
a frantic attempt to bolster the strength of the for 
ward wall. Small wonder the 1925 eleven was the 
poorest team Illinois had had in several seasons. Hav 
ing been elected captain my senior year, I had the 
dubious honor of leading my team to what everyone 
thought would be the slaughter. 

With a green squad composed mostly of sopho 
mores and substitutes from the year before, Illinois 
lost three out of their first four games. Our initial de 
feat was suffered on opening day, October 3rd, at the 
hands of Nebraska. Losing by a 14-0 score, it was the 
first time we had been beaten in our new stadium. 
We came back to whip a weak Butler team the follow 
ing week, 16-13, then lost two in a row to Iowa and 
Michigan by scores of 12-10 and 3-0. Finding myself 
running with little or no interference, I was com 
pletely bottled up in the Nebraska and Michigan 
games, but fared somewhat better against Butler and 
Iowa. I scored twice in the Butler contest, the first 
one on a seventy-yard run, while against the Hawk- 
eyes I ran back the opening kickoft eighty-five yards 
for a touchdown. 

The Michigan battle of 1925 was an especially 
tough one for me personally. Because of what I had 
done to them the previous season, I was a marked 
man. The entire Wolverine defense was geared to 
stop me and they did a good job of it with the aid of 
a sloppy turf. I particularly remember Benny Fried 
man, Michigan's great quarterback, sticking to me 
that entire afternoon like flypaper. Friedman, inci- 
70 



dentally, won the game for Michigan by booting a 
twenty-five-yard field goal in the second period. I 
played quarterback for the first time in this contest 
and remained at that position the rest of the season. 
Zup had approached me several weeks earlier and 
said, "Red, I think you should move to quarterback, 
If you call signals I think the boys will have confi 
dence in you." The Illinois coach worked with me 
many long hours until I was ready to take on my new 
assignment. Preparing me for my role as a quarter 
back he taught me things about football I had never 
even thought of before. It was a rich, rewarding ex 
perience learning the intricacies of football strategy 
from the Dutch Master. 

One week, after being nosed out by Michigan 3-0, 
Illinois prepared to invade the East and pit our sup 
posedly waning strength against one of the greatest 
football aggregations in that section of the country, 
the University of Pennsylvania. On the face of our 
record thus far in the season, nobody figured we had 
even a fighting chance to win. Penn had already 
beaten Ursinus, Swarthmore, Brown and mighty Yale. 
They had subdued Chicago 7-0 the previous week. 
The most conservative predictions had Penn swamp 
ing us by four or five touchdowns. 

We faced the Quakers from Pennsylvania on Satur 
day, October 31st at Franklin Field, Philadelphia. It 
was a cold, damp day, since it rained and snowed al 
most the entire night before. The playing field, with 
nothing more than straw to protect it from the ele 
ments, was like a big mud cake. Despite the bad 

71 



weather conditions, 65,000 fans wearing heavy over 
coats, furs and overshoes crowded into the stadium for 
one of the largest turnouts ever to see a sporting 
event in Philadelphia. All of the important eastern 
sports writers such as Grantland Rice, Ed Pollock, 
David Walsh, Harry Gross, Damon Runyon and Ford 
Frick were on hand to give their readers eye-witness 
accounts of the battle. There was more than the usual 
amount of interest generally connected with an inter- 
sectional clash of this kind. I think many people were 
just downright curious to find out whether there was 
anything to the reputation I had established playing 
against football teams in the Midwest. 

Illinois started preparing for the Penn game late in 
the 1924 season when Zup asked us at practice one 
night, "You boys who will be back next year how 
would you like to play the University of Pennsylvania 
on their home grounds in Philadelphia?" When we 
shouted our approval he added, "All right, I'll see 
what I can do/' The fact is, the game had already been 
scheduled, but that was Zup's way of stirring up in 
terest in his charges. 

During the summer, after the players had been def 
initely informed of the impending battle with Penn, 
Zuppke followed the identical procedure that proved 
so successful against Michigan in 1924. He sent many 
personal letters to all of us on the squad telling how 
the eastern teams looked down their noses at midwest- 
ern football and that it was our duty to demonstrate to 
the football world that we were every bit as good or 
better than they. Zup also wrote that he had discov- 
72 



ered a sure way to defeat the feared Quakers and all 
we had to do was report for fall practice in good shape 
and he'd show us how. He succeeded in getting us so 
keyed up for the Penn game that even our miserable 
showing in the 1925 season prior to our appearance in 
Philly didn't take the edge off our determination to 
beat the easterners. 

Zup's battle plan for Penn, based on an exhaus 
tive study of the most reliable scouting reports, was a 
comparatively simple yet brilliant one: he deduced 
the only possible way of winning over such a power 
ful eleven was on weak side plays. To explain what 
our coach meant, it is necessary to know that Illinois 
used a single wing offense with an unbalanced line 
that would shift to the right with four linemen on the 
right side of center and two on the left side of center. 
On a shift to the left the same formation would apply 
in that direction. Now Zup found out that Penn al 
ways overshif ted on defense which meant they prac 
tically put their entire defense on the side where the 
shift went, leaving the weak side of the offensive for 
mation practically unguarded. So he told me to call as 
many plays around the weak side as possible without 
establishing a definite pattern. His specific instructions 
before the game were: "In the first two plays of the 
game run Britton through the strong side. On the 
third play line up strong on the short side of the field 
and you take the ball around the weak side." 

The Penn-Illinois battle began with the Quakers 
kicking off and my returning the ball to our thirty- 
six-yard line. Just as the coach had ordered, I had 

73 



Britton take the ball on the first two plays through 
the strong side, and he got brutally smeared. After 
the second unsuccessful attempt he said to me in the 
huddle, "Say, what have you against me?" Britton 
then punted and when Penn also failed to gain, they 
kicked back and Illinois wound up with the ball on 
their forty-yard line. On the very next play we lined 
up strong to the right and I took the ball around the 
left and raced fifty-five yards to a touchdown without 
encountering a single Penn player all the way. We 
continued mixing weak side plays with strong side 
plays for the rest of the first half and it netted us two 
more touchdowns. Earl Britton and Left Halfback 
Pug Daugherity were used mostly as decoys to run 
around the strong side, but I, too, ran the strong side 
on occasion to confuse the opposition. Our second 
touchdown came minutes later in the first quarter 
when Britton went over from the one-yard stripe. We 
started that march when I took the second Penn kick- 
off on my twenty and ran it back fifty-five yards to 
the Quaker twenty-five-yard line. At this point in the 
game the field was a veritable quagmire with both the 
Penn and Illinois players covered with mud from 
head to foot The numbers and features of all of us 
were almost indistinguishable in the gooey mess. 

Illinois scored its third touchdown late in the sec 
ond quarter as I skirted twelve yards to the goal 
around left end. It was early in that same period that 
Penn scored their only two points of the game on a 
safety when Britton fell on his blocked punt as it 
bounded behind our goal post. 
74 



Between halves, Coach Louis A. Young of the Penn 
team told his players not to shift so much on defense, 
but it was too late; Illinois had taken the starch out of 
them. In the third period we scored our fourth and last 
touchdown. We led up to it when Britton and Daugh- 
erity rolled up consistent yardage plowing through 
center and I accounted for some thirty-nine yards 
through tackle and dashes around end. With the ball 
on Penn's twenty-yard line I decided to try Zuppke's 
tricky flea flicker play. Seeing what I was up to, Zup 
quickly jumped off the bench which was the signal 
to call off a play. When I paid no attention to him, he 
excitedly sent in a substitute with orders to change 
the play, but I waved the player back to the bench. 
Before Zup could take any drastic action, I was calling 
the signals. Completely frustrated at this point, he 
turned his back to the team and held his hands over 
his eyes. Zuppke's flea flicker play was now on. I knelt 
on one knee eight yards behind the center like I was 
going to hold the ball for Earl Britton to place kick. 
Instead of going to me the oval was centered directly 
to Britton who immediately lobbed to Chuck Kassel, 
the right end. Without taking a step, Kassel just 
turned around and flipped me a lateral as I got up off 
the ground and ran about twenty yards to his right. I 
then made the twenty yards down field to the goal 
while the Penn defense did little more than gape in 
utter amazement. It was real razzle-dazzle football 
and it worked just like you draw it out on the black 
board. I think it would still be a great play if tried to 
day. Funny thing that night after the game Zup told 

75 



a band of admirers in the lobby of the Benjamin 
Franklin Hotel that he planned for months to use 
that flea flicker play in precisely that kind of spot in 
the ball game. 

When Pennsylvania and Illinois failed to score in 
the last quarter, the contest ended in a 24-2 win for 
our team. I left the game with about five minutes 
left in the final quarter after picking up another fifty- 
three yards in four attempts. On one play I scooted 
around left end for forty yards before being thrown 
out of bounds. When it was all over I had had proba 
bly the best day of my collegiate football career. I 
made 363 yards in thirty-six tries, figuring in the two 
runs of fifty-five yards and the one for forty, and 
scored three times. The newspapers were most kind 
and generous in their reports of the game. Damon 
Runyon paid me an especially fine compliment when 
he wrote: "This man Red Grange of Illinois is three 
or four men and a horse rolled into one for football 
purposes. He is Jack Dempsey, Babe Ruth, Al Jolson, 
Paavo Nurmi and Man o' War. Put them all together, 
they spell Grange/' 

There were many factors responsible for our sur 
prising showing against Penn. First and foremost was 
the brilliant strategy engineered by Zuppke that 
called for our using weak side plays against the Quak 
ers. This probably more than any other single fac 
tor was responsible for our unexpected victory. Then 
there was the psychological build-up Zup gave us. Our 
team was at its absolute peak for that game as we were 
against Michigan in 1924. The line, which was com- 
76 



pletely helpless earlier in the campaign, functioned 
with machinelike precision. And it got stronger as the 
battle progressed. A popular saying of the time was 
"Penn rules the East," but after our second touchdown 
in the first quarter our linemen became so cocky they 
stood up before almost every play and shouted, "Illinois 
rules the East." Then they'd wildly charge in and bowl 
over the opposition. 

The play of Pug Daugherity and Earl Britton in the 
backfield was also top rate. Daugherity clicked off 
from four to eight yards when yardage was needed 
and once got away for a twenty-five-yard run which 
helped set the stage for our fourth touchdown against 
the easterners. Britton, although he surprisingly 
missed all four points after touchdown, was ever 
dependable on defense, and hit the line with more 
viciousness than I'd ever seen him do before. His 
punting average of thirty-seven yards was most re 
markable considering the sloppy footing and slippery 
ball. Twice the burly fullback kicked over fifty yards. 

Last, but not least, was the inspiration the team got 
when the magnificent 150-piece University of Illinois 
band performed in front of the stands just before the 
kickoff. Making a dramatic entrance onto the field at 
the last minute, since their train had been delayed 
en route, they electrified the crowd with their snappy 
formations and stirring music. There had never been 
anything to equal it on an eastern gridiron. We 
couldn't help but catch that "Fighting Illini" spirit. 

Typical of some of the headlines that blazoned 
across the country as a result of our triumph over the 

77 



team that was considered by many to be not only the 
best in the East but in the entire nation, were: 
"ILLINI TOPPLE QUAKERS, 24-2"; "CORN- 
LAND TEAM AND BAND STUPEFY QUAKER 
CITY"; "ILLINI AND 'RED' SCALP PENN, 24 TO 
2"; "ILLINOIS BATTERS PENN INTO SUBMIS 
SION, 24-2"; "SOGGY FIELD FAILS TO HALT 
GRANGE WHO RUNS PENN'S ENDS RAG 
GED"; "GRANGE AND ILLINOIS BEAT PENN, 
24-2." Back in Champaign the Illini supporters went 
wild with joy. When our train pulled into home port 
on Monday, twenty thousand students, faculty mem 
bers and townfolk turned out at the station to greet 
the Illinois players. I tried to avoid the excitement by 
slipping out the last coach of the train, but the crowd 
swarmed all over me when someone spotted me and 
yelled, "There's Grange/' I was hoisted on the shoul 
ders of several fellow students and carried through 
the surging throng almost two miles down the streets 
to my fraternity house, 

Illinois played three more games after the Penn de 
bacle and won all of them. We took the first one from 
Chicago 13-6 on November 7th under weather condi 
tions far worse than we encountered in Philadelphia. 
We had a sell-out crowd of 67,000 in Memorial Sta 
dium as twenty-five special trains left Chicago loaded 
with Maroon rooters. I lost more ground than I made 
in that battle with Chicago. Every time I tried to run 
my feet went out from under me. It was a slippery 
mud unlike the kind we played in against Penn, and 
for a runner of my type, who did a lot of cutting, it 
78 



was an impossible situation. Earl Rritton was the Illi 
nois hero that day. His touchdown and long punts 
were responsible for victory. Austin "Five Yards** 
McCarty was injured in the second period and had 
to leave the game, but he was still Chicago's best 
ground-gainer of the day. It was a hard-fought contest 
to the finish as were all games in the Illinois-Chicago 
series, but good sportsmanship prevailed at all times. 
Just one week before, Chicago's Coach A. A. Stagg 
telegraphed Illinois' Bob Zuppke after the Penn 
game. "Heartiest congratulations to you and Captain 
Grange and the Illinois team on your wonderful vic 
tory. You did what Chicago couldn't do, but Chicago 
along with the whole West rejoices in your glorious 
defense of the prestige of (Big Ten) Conference foot 
ball" 

After subduing Chicago, the Illini whipped Wa- 
bash 21 to 0. I entered the game for just three plays 
in the last quarter, but didn't carry the ball. It was 
my last appearance on our home grounds. Our final 
game of the season with Ohio State at Columbus 
ended in a 14-9 Illinois victory. 

At season's end, Michigan and Northwestern tied 
for the 1925 conference title. Michigan won five and 
lost one, while Northwestern recorded only three 
wins against one loss, however the Wolverines' lone 
defeat was at the hands of the Purple. Chicago, the 
winner in 1924, sank to sixth place. Illinois tied with 
Iowa for fifth place with two wins and two defeats in 
conference competition, but our overall season's rec 
ord was five wins and three losses. Our defeat of un- 

79 



beaten Penn was the season's crowning point as far as 
Illini rooters were concerned. It made the 1925 sea 
son a complete success. As for myself, my six touch 
downs in the 1925 season brought my three-year total 
at Illinois to thirty-one. Walter Camp died in March, 
1925, but I was named on all the other All- American 
teams at the end of my senior year. 



80 



9 



The Dutch Master 



A BOOK BASED upon my life story would not be 
complete unless one chapter at least were devoted to 
the man who made me in football and who, next to 
my father, was perhaps the most important person in 
my life. That man, as you probably guessed, is my old 
coach and long-time friend, Robert C. Zuppke of Illi 
nois. 

Zup's record, over a period of twenty-eight seasons, 
in the Western Conference and against the big teams 
of the East and West, was one of the most outstanding 
in football. In 1914, his second season at Illinois, Zup 
gave the university its first undisputed championship 
of the Western Conference. And he accomplished 
this with a team that averaged 174 pounds, three of 
the regulars averaging only 146 pounds. When Zup 
retired at the end of the 1941 season, his teams had 
won and shared a total of seven Western Conference 
Championships. In addition he gained an impressive 
number of brilliant upsets in the nonchampionship 
years. 

Perhaps the greatest upset victory of Zup's career 
was against Minnesota's "perfect team" on November 
4, 1916. In that game the Illini were not given the 

81 



slightest chance of winning. Earlier in the season the 
Gophers had soundly trounced Iowa 67-0, South 
Dakota 81-0, Chicago 49-0 and Wisconsin 53-0. Off 
that record the experts pretty generally predicted a 
49-0 defeat for the Illini. All were proved utterly 
wrong, because of their failure to recognize Zuppke 
was at his best when cast in the underdog role. When 
the odds seemed hopeless Zup always took a long 
chance he'd shoot the works to win rather than 
merely attempt to keep the score down. 

The long chance Zup took in that game with Min 
nesota was the key factor in turning sure defeat into a 
rousing victory for the Illini. It took a stroke of gen 
ius to conceive such strategy and a very courageous 
individual to carry it out. 

Several days before the clash with the Gophers, 
Zup told his hard-working squad, "This Minnesota 
outfit is superstitious and they've got a formula they 
always follow on the first three plays. First, Galloping 
Sprafka will carry the ball, next Wyman will carry it 
and, on the third play, Shorty Long will lug it. On the 
first three plays, tackle those men in that order." 

One of the boys asked, "Suppose they cross us up? 
Suppose we gang up on those guys and someone else 
has the ball. What then?" 

"If that happens," Zup answered, "I'll run out on 
the field and tackle the fellow with the ball myself/' 

Sure enough, when game time arrived and Minne 
sota received on the opening kickoff, Sprafka, Wyman 
and Long respectively carried the ball on the first 
three plays. Zup's plan worked like a charm. Each 
82 



time they were smothered until the mighty Gophers 
were almost pushed back to their goal line. 

Minnesota succeeded in kicking out of danger on 
fourth down, but never entirely recovered from the 
shock of being so completely overpowered in the first 
few seconds of play. On the other hand, the Illini be 
came an inspired team. Taking charge from that point 
on, they finally wound up on the long end of an un 
believable 14-9 score. 

Zuppke can rightly be referred to as the Edison 
of Football. His contributions to the fall sport have 
been many and varied. He invented the spiral pass 
from center, the huddle, started the practice of pull 
ing both guards back from a balanced line to protect 
the forward passer and originated the "screen pass." 
Forward and lateral passes were part of his repertoire 
as far back as 1906, when he was coach of Muskegon 
High School. He was the originator of strategy maps, 
the most comprehensive guides for a quarterback I 
have ever seen. 

Whenever Zup came up with a successful maneu 
ver he gave it a colorful name so it would be easier 
for his players to remember. 

The following is a list of some of the more fa 
mous Zuppke plays: the flea flicker; the blue eagle; 
the corkscrew; the sidewinder; the whirligig; the raz 
zle-dazzle; the whoa back; the flying trapeze. 

The "flea flicker" is the best known of all, and 
through the years Zup developed many variations of 
it. In our use of the play to score against Pennsylva 
nia, it was worked from place-kick formation a short 

83 



forward pass to our right end who flicked a lateral to 
the left half as the latter went wide around right end. 

With all his strategy and new innovations Zup 
never followed a so-called "system." Unlike many big- 
time coaches of his day, he merely adapted his coach 
ing wizardry to his material and the talent of the men 
available. This flexibility was part of Zup's greatness. 

Although his approach to football was highly scien 
tific, Zup was by nature as superstitious as a tribal 
witch doctor. I get a chuckle when recalling two par 
ticular superstitions of his, 

One had to do with his wearing of five rings on his 
right hand during the football season. He was con 
stantly rotating the rings, sometimes wearing two or 
three on one finger, until his team started winning. 
When achieving victory, Zup partly attributed it to 
his having found the lucky combination. 

Another superstition concerned his brother Her 
man of Minneapolis who made a habit of attending 
one important Illinois game each fall. For a gag, Her 
man always wore a striped orange and blue tie rep 
resenting Illinois' school colors to the games and, 
by a strange coincidence, never saw an Illini team de 
feated. This went on for several years until Zup sud 
denly attached a connection between victory and his 
brother's tie. Arrangements were then made for the 
charmed tie to be left in a Champaign safety deposit 
vault and removed annually when Herman came to 
town to see the Illini play. 

When it came to the psychology of football, the 
Dutch Master, as Zup was sometimes called, had no 
84 



peers. His ideas on the subject could well form the 
basis of a coach's bible. I remember a talk I had with 
Zup several years after I left Illinois. Some of the 
things he told me that day may serve to illustrate the 
point. 

"You may coach a college team sometime, Red," 
Zup said. "When and if you do, here are some things 
to remember. Your task will be to get the best out of 
your squad. To do so, you must deal with them as 
men. Cultivate their respect, confidence and good 
will by sincerity and absolute fairness. Be imper 
sonal in your criticism of the whole squad and make 
your direct criticism to the player in private. 

"Do not ridicule the scrubs. Treat each one alike, 
be he star or humble substitute. Insist on a high stand 
ard of accomplishment. Do not permit carelessness or 
indifference. 

"Praise sparingly. If you overdo it, it will be mean 
ingless. Be careful not to spank, then kiss. It will ruin 
discipline. You must be a developer of men as well as 
a selector of men. Keep your coaching simple and 
your English plain. 

"Insist on absolute obedience to a reasonable com 
mon-sense set of training rules, and keep your squad 
in the correct mental attitude toward those rules. It 
is a matter of squad loyalty. Don't spy on the men. 
Place training rules before them as a matter of a gen 
tlemen's agreement." 

Zup emphasized: "Put this down in capital letters. 
A losing squad needs your help more than a winning 
team. Bolster their confidence. Let them know that 

85 



you believe in them and will be with them win, 
lose or draw. That is the true test of a coach how he 
handles a team that simply hasn't the talent and abil 
ity to hold its own against bigger teams from a physi 
cal standpoint. If he can lift the boys beyond them 
selves, then he is a real coach. Victory in football is 
40 per cent ability and 60 per cent spirit. 

"Some years ago," he continued, "the coach of a 
small college team came to see me. His team hadn't 
won a game in five years. On the following Saturday 
his eleven was meeting a traditional rival. He was dis 
traught and jittery. 

"I said to him, 'Are your boys in shape? Have they 
got courage? Have you taught them sound football?' 

"When he answered "yes* to all of those questions, 
I told him, 'Go home and sleep like a baby. Let the 
other coach do the worrying. Think what will happen 
to his reputation if his team is the first one you beat 
in five years!' " 

Resuming his convictions on coaching he went on: 
"Above all, be a gentleman in dealing with your 
squad. Remember that you are working with young 
men who deserve your best and who are critical of 
you. 

"Football may be a brutal game, but brutes can't 
play it. It calls for sportsmanship, fairness and cour 
tesy. And keep in mind courage is strictly an individ 
ual thing. It doesn't belong to any one nation or race. 
I have seen them all in my years of coaching. The 
longer I am in contact with every race and creed, the 
more I discover how little the human race differs." 
86 



Zup concluded: "A good coach makes better play 
ers out of good ones and often makes good players 
out of mediocre ones. He emphasizes their abilities, 
enables them to make the most of their latent talent, 
gives them the best chance by putting the right 
player in the right place. 

"Many boys develop tremendously after a single 
season. For example, three of our Ail-American line 
men: Slooey Chapman, Jim McMillen and Bernie 
Shively all were failures as sophomores, 

"The work of the coach is more apparent when he 
deals with raw material. Then the team's progress is 
visible. But the coach shows his ability just as much 
when he polishes material that is already developed 
and fits it to the team. He superimposes good habits 
of play on bad ones. 

"Players must have morale and loyalty, and the 
most important job of the coach is to instill this mo 
rale and loyalty, no matter what the material is. That 
is where his personality counts. The fawning, crawl 
ing, pleading coach neither leads nor directs. Boys fol 
low a leader, but are herded in front of a driver. They 
are suspicious of the whip behind but look with trust 
to the man in front." 

No matter what cause Zup had to become impa 
tient or aggravated at a particular moment, I never 
knew him to use abusive language on a player. If a 
boy made a costly mistake in a game, or failed to fol 
low instructions on the practice field, Zup would look 
him straight in the eye and say, "You lemon, you!" 
When the Dutch Master used this expression, he 

87 



didn't have to say another word to get his point across. 

Zup was a supersalesman and a great humorist. He 
could "fire" his team to any pitch and had the un 
canny knack of making a funny remark at precisely 
the right psychological moment to relieve tension. 

Because of the methods employed in handling his 
team personnel, I believe football was always at its 
best under the Zuppke banner. To Zup football was 
more than just a game to win or lose. It was a means 
to build character. Because a little bit of Illinois' im 
mortal coach rubbed off on all his charges, a boy who 
played under the Dutch Master stood every chance of 
emerging a winner, regardless of whether or not he 
performed on a championship eleven. 



88 




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Grange shows off his passing form at Illinois. Courtesy of the University of Illinois 
Sports Information Office. 




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Grange at the coin toss of the Illinois-Ohio State game, November 21, 1925. 
Courtesy of the University of Illinois Archives, Record Series 39/2/20. 




Grange and his jersey, after his last Illinois game. Courtesy of the University of 
Illinois Sports Information Office. 




Two sports legends: Grange with Babe Ruth, taken in 1925 while Grange was 
playing for the Chicago Bears. Courtesy of the University of Illinois Sports 
Information Office, 




Grange in his Chicago Bears uniform, in 1951. Courtesy of Ira 
Morton. 




Grange broadcasting an Illinois game for CBS radio. Courtesy of the University 
of Illinois Sports Information Office. 








A MASCOT M%$TEfi 






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A movie poster from Grange's brief Hollywood careen Courtesy of 
Wheaton College Special Collections. 




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In 1991, sixty-seven years after his greatest feat, Grange was featured on the cover 
of a special issue of Sports Illustrated* Courtesy of Culver Pictures, for Sports 
Illustrated; copyright Time, Inc. 



10 

Big Money Beckons One Million 
Dollars' Worth 



THERE WERE MANY who thought I made a big 
mistake when I turned pro after my last college game 
in the late fall of 1925. Professional football in those 
days was frowned upon by faculty representatives, 
coaches, athletic directors and the commissioner of 
athletics for the Big Ten Conference. It was hard to 
find anyone in college circles for it. 

In particular, Amos Alonzo Stagg of Chicago was 
bitterly opposed to pro football and Fielding H. Yost 
of Michigan publicly admitted he had discouraged 
his athletes from following a professional career as a 
coach or player. George Huff, athletic director of Illi 
nois, was equally vehement against pro football de 
spite his being an ex-professional baseball player. For 
a time Major John L. Griffith, Big Ten commissioner, 
could see no harm in a college football player playing 
for pay, but finally was won over by Stagg and Yost, 

The big objection to pro football was, I believe, the 
money involved. If a star player could step out after 
three years of intercollegiate competition and earn 
more money in a few months than a professor makes 
in an entire year, it was inevitable some people were 

89 



going to be unhappy. To best illustrate my point on 
the money angle, it is a fact that rigid rules were en 
forced in the conference at the time, whereby a coach 
or athletic director could not have a rank beyond asso 
ciate professor, nor receive a salary in excess of a fac 
ulty member of that rank. This was done to avoid a 
jealous feeling among members of the academic staff 
for those in the athletic department. 

I think another reason why college officials ob 
jected was their fear that pro football might take 
away some of the glamor of the college game and ulti 
mately affect the gate. 

Of course, time has changed all that. Today pro 
football occupies the same high position in the sports 
world as college football. Both operate under the 
classification of big business and neither has apprecia 
bly affected the other's attendance figures. Practically 
every pro-football player and coach are former big- 
name college football players and coaches. College 
players can be openly drafted by pro teams the year 
their class graduates. And college football coaches are 
generally as high-salaried as college presidents. Natu 
rally it was impossible back in 1925 for me or any 
one else, no matter how optimistic, to foresee all the 
changes that have taken place. Yet if I were placed in 
the same position today as I was then, I would still 
follow the identical course. I wish to make the point 
strong that I have never for one instant regretted 
what I did. 

The story behind my turning professional and my 
association with Charlie Pyle, who was responsible 
90 



for the whole thing, begins the second week of my 
senior year at Illinois. I was about to take my seat in 
a Champaign movie house one Saturday night when 
an usher approached me. Handing me a slip of paper 
with a few words scribbled on it he said, "Mr. Pyle 
who runs this theater wants you to have this. It's a 
pass that'll get you in the Virginia Theater as often as 
you want for the rest of the year. And you can use it 
for the Park Theater, too, since Mr. Pyle operates both 
places." I was very pleased with the offering not only 
because I liked going to the movies but since this was 
the first time I had ever received anything free while 
I was at Illinois. 

Several days later I went to the Virginia again. As I 
entered the theater I was greeted in the lobby by Mr. 
Pyle and invited up to his office. I had heard his name 
mentioned many times before, but never met him. 
After exchanging a few pleasantries, he got around to 
the real reason for his wanting to see me. 

"How would you like to make one hundred thou 
sand dollars, or maybe even a million?" Pyle asked. 
I was momentarily stunned. Regaining my compo 
sure, I quickly answered the query in the affirmative. 
When I attempted to find out what Pyle had in mind 
he told me he had a plan, but wasn't at liberty to re 
veal the details at the time. He said he'd contact me 
in a few weeks and made me promise that after leav 
ing his office I wouldn't mention our conversation to 
anyone. 

I found out later that Pyle left the next day for 
Chicago to confer with George Halas and Ed Sterna- 

91 



man, co-owners of the Chicago Bears. He offered 
them a tentative deal whereby I would join their 
team immediately after my last college game against 
Ohio State, I was to play in the remaining league 
games that season and then go on tour with the Bears 
in a series of exhibition games that Pyle would book 
himself from Florida to the West Coast. 

According to Pyle's proposition, the Bears were to 
share the gate receipts approximately fifty-fifty with 
us. This Pyle intended to split sixty-forty in my favor. 
At first Halas and Sternaman balked at the percent 
age figures, but after sparring into the wee hours of 
the morning, finally agreed to terms. Pyle then left 
Chicago to book the exhibition games in the West and 
Far South. 

It was three weeks before I saw Pyle again. I 
learned then, for the first time, the full details of 
what he'd been up to. The arrangements he made 
with the Bear owners seemed agreeable to me and we 
shook hands on it. But he stressed one point. "Red, 
well sign nothing, nor will you receive one cent from 
me, until after youVe played your last college game. 
We don't want to do anything to jeopardize your 
standing as a college player." And that's the way it 
stood until I signed an official contract with Pyle after 
the Ohio game some eight weeks later. 

During my senior year rumors were continually 
circulating about the possibility of my becoming a 
professional The subject of my leaving Illinois at the 
end of the collegiate football season became a topic 
for national discussion. Talk had it that a group of 
92 



eastern sport magnates headed by Charles Stoneham 
of the New York Giants and Jake Ruppert of the New 
York Yankees baseball teams were planning to organ 
ize pro-football teams and that I was being sought as 
one of the key players. There was further talk about 
my touring with the famous Four Horsemen of Notre 
Dame. All this was mere hearsay. No one other than 
Pyle ever approached me while I was at Illinois and 
we kept our plans with Halas and Sternaman secret 
until after the Ohio State game. 

One week before the battle in Columbus, the 
Champaign News-Gazette called me into their office 
and practically accused me of having signed a contract 
to play pro ball. They told me I wasn't eligible to play 
against the Buckeyes because of it. I replied that I 
had not affixed my signature to any contract and de 
fied them to produce evidence to the contrary. At this 
point I put on my hat and walked out. 

The Champaign paper obviously hoped to uncover 
a sensational expose. My firm denial left them with no 
other choice but to drop the matter. If I had been seri 
ously suspected of signing a contract with Pyle or any 
one else to play professional football, I would have been 
put on the carpet long before by Major John Griffith, 
then commissioner of athletics for the Big Ten, or by 
the officials of my own university. This was never done, 
nor was it deemed necessary. 

Two days before the Buckeye-Illinois battle there 
was a report that L. W. St. John, the Ohio State ath 
letic director, might challenge my eligibility to play 
against his team because of the rumors that I had 

93 



inked a professional contract. St. John answered the 
report with: "If Red Grange denies the rumor, his 
word is good enough for me." 

Down through the years many unkind remarks 
have been made about Charlie Pyle. Labeled "Cash- 
and-Garry," he was pictured as a notorious money- 
hungry promoter who ruthlessly exploited and used 
me to further his own ambitions. Nothing could be 
further from the truth. Pyle was always more than 
fair to me and one of the finest men I have ever 
known. It was a genuine pleasure to be associated 
with him. I wouldn't have missed the experience for 
the world. 

Pyle was about forty-five when I met him. He was 
a shade over six feet tall and weighed about 195 
pounds. He had gray hair and a neatly trimmed mus 
tache. An immaculate dresser, his clothes were made 
to order by the most exclusive tailors. He always car 
ried a cane, wore spats, a derby and a diamond stick 
pin in his tie. He was suave, brilliant and perhaps the 
greatest supersalesman of his day. Pyle came up with 
more ideas in one day than most men come up with in 
a lifetime, 

A lot of hogwash has been written that almost 
everyone, including George Huff, Bob Zuppke, and 
my father, tried to discourage me from casting my lot 
with the pros. The plain fact is that no one except the 
newspapers ever brought up the subject until Zup 
questioned me about my future plans as we traveled 
on the train to Columbus for the Ohio State encounter. 
94 



Zup had refrained from saying anything earlier, al 
though he was disturbed no end by reporters who 
hounded me all season. When he finally did ask me, 
I hedged by saying I would tell him anything he 
wanted to know after the game. 

The contest with the Buckeyes was played on 
November 21st before a packed house of 85,500, the 
largest crowd ever assembled anywhere up to that time 
for a football contest. On the eve of the game I was sup 
posed to head a big float parade. Zup, trying to spare 
me the excitement, arranged for one of my team 
mates to impersonate me. I was thus able to retire 
early, and the crowd never knew the difference. 

In the game I carried the ball twenty-one times 
and passed nine times for a total of 195 yards. I wasn't 
able to rack up a touchdown myself, but threw a short 
pass to Chuck Kassel, our right end, in the second 
period and he went over for the tally from the seven- 
yard line. Toward the end of the battle I intercepted 
an Ohio pass and ran it back thirty-seven yards. Earl 
Britton scored a touchdown in the first quarter and 
accounted for the two points after touchdown as we 
defeated Ohio State 14-9. 

The Buckeyes got two of their nine points on a 
safety when a punt got away from me and rolled over 
the goal in the second period. Halfback Elmer 
Marek, who was practically the entire Ohio offense that 
day, scored on a spectacular seventy-two-yard gallop in 
the third quarter and kicked the extra point. 

As the gun went off, ending the game, reporters 

95 



swarmed about and pressed me for a statement. I an 
nounced for the first time my intention to play with 
the Chicago Bears and informed them I was going to 
sign a contract in Chicago the following day. 

Zup, visibly disturbed by the news, drove with me 
from the stadium to the hotel. Mrs. Zuppke was along 
and we spent almost an hour in a cab as Zup or 
dered the driver to "keep driving" while he tried 
desperately to make me change my mind. "Keep 
away from professionalism and you'll be another Wal 
ter Camp/' he pleaded. "Football isn't a game to play 
for money/* My reply summed up what I believed all 
along. "You get paid for coaching, Zup, why should it 
be wrong for me to get paid for playing?" 

We finally parted and I didn't see Zup again for 
about three weeks. By then I had played in several pro 
games. We were attending the annual Elks banquet in 
Champaign for the Illinois team and Zup was the 
principal speaker. During the course of his speech he 
berated me for joining the pro ranks. I thought his 
remarks were completely uncalled for. I had done 
my very best during the three varsity seasons I played 
for him and now that my college football career was 
over felt what I did from then on was my own affair. 
I was so mad at Zup at the time I got up from my place 
at the speaker's table and left the hall while he was 
still talking. The next day we had both forgotten the 
incident. 

The Sunday immediately after the Ohio game I met 
Charlie Pyle in Chicago at his office in the Morrison 
96 



Hotel. There I signed the contract which made him 
my manager. Later that day Halas and Sternaman of 
the Bears came over and Pyle and I signed our pact 
with them. Now I was a pro. 



97 



11 

Seven Games in Ten Days 



WHEN i JOINED the Chicago Bears there 
were eighteen teams in the National Professional 
Football League. But there wasn't enough activity at 
the turnstiles to support half that number. There was 
such a lack of interest in the pro game that the league 
didn't even hold a championship play-off at the end 
of the season. Fans just seemed to prefer the college 
brand of football. And the fact that the big names in 
college football were against the pro game made mat 
ters worse. 

Yet pro football in 1925 was good football. Many of 
the players were former college stars who continued 
to give their all to the game despite the small mone 
tary return. The big problem was to get the newspa 
pers to give the pro sport the publicity it so badly 
needed. Stories about the happenings in the profes 
sional league were usually buried on the second or 
third pages of the sports section. Had the same space 
been devoted to pro football as pro baseball, the for 
mer would probably have caught the public's fancy 
from the very beginning. 

I made rny pro debut in Chicago against the Chicago 
Cardinals on Thanksgiving Day, November 26, 1925. 
98 



Thanks to a tremendous barrage of publicity that 
accompanied my joining the pro ranks, 36,000 fans 
crowded into Wrigley Field to watch the game. It was 
the largest turnout ever recorded up to that time for 
a pro game. 

The Cardinals had a great team. Their offensive 
power centered around Quarterback Paddy Driscoll, 
a Northwestern University immortal and one of the 
greatest all-around football players the game has ever 
known. In the kicking department particularly, Dris- 
coll had no peers. During that 1925 season the Car 
dinals, playing fourteen league games, wound up with 
a record of eleven wins, one tie and two losses. The 
Bears were also strong. They had stars like George 
Trafton, Hunk Anderson, Ed Healey, George Halas 
and Jim McMillen in the line and Laurie Walquist, 
Joe Sternaman and Ed Sternaman in the backfield. 
Anderson and Trafton played their college football at 
Notre Dame, Healey at Dartmouth, and Halas, Mc 
Millen, Walquist and the Sternaman brothers were 
former Illini. 

I entered the Bears-Cardinals contest under a hand 
icap. I had only three days' practice prior to the 
game and didn't know too many of the Bears' signals. 
Coaches Halas and Sternaman employed a "T" forma 
tion and although it was vastly different from what 
we know today as the "T," it was still an adjustment 
for me to make from the single wing Zuppke used at 
Illinois. 

I made ninety-two yards against the Red Birds that 
day, but wasn't able to get away for a touchdown. My 

99 



longest gains came on punt returns. On defense I in 
tercepted a Cardinal pass on our own five-yard line 
and, although I didn't get far with the ball, broke up 
the opposition's one serious scoring threat of the after 
noon, 

As was expected, the Bears-Cardinals clash was hard 
fought, and finally wound up in a 0-0 tie. The custom 
ers left the park somewhat disappointed that I was 
unable to scamper for a touchdown, but satisfied they 
saw a good football game. 

On Sunday, three days after the clash with the Car 
dinals, we played an encore at the Cubs' ball park. 
This time we faced the Columbus Tigers. Thanks again 
to the wonderful support we got from the newspapers, 
28,000 defied a snowstorm to watch us nose out the 
Tigers 14-13. As in the Cardinal game I was unable to 
cross the goal line, but succeeded in plowing 140 yards 
through the snow in the thirty minutes I played. I 
threw two completed passes, one that went to right 
halfback Walquist for a net gain of thirty-two yards, 
and a tally. 

The following Wednesday, December 2nd, the 
Bears played an exhibition game against a hurriedly 
recruited eleven called the Donnelly Stars in Sports 
man's Park, St. Louis. The weather was so cold only 
about eight thousand were on hand to witness the one 
sided battle. We romped over them 39-6 and I ac 
counted for four of the touchdowns. Earl Britton, my 
former teammate at Illinois, made his debut in the 
Bears' line-up as a fullback. He had signed with the 
team a few days before. 
100 



We boarded a train for Philadelphia immediately 
after the game since we were due, on Saturday, to meet 
the Frankfort Yellowjackets in Shibe Park. It had 
rained heavily in Philly the night before and the 
muddy playing conditions resembled the Penn-Illinois 
game of a few weeks back. Before forty thousand rain- 
soaked fans, the Bears beat the Yellowjackets 14-0. I 
proved to be a good mud horse again by scoring both 
touchdowns. The Chicago Tribune reported to the 
home-town folks: "Mud Plastered Grange Sears Jack 
ets." 

On December 6th, the next day, we took on the New 
York Giants in the Polo Grounds. The New York pa 
pers gave the game such a big build-up lines started 
forming outside the stadium in the morning. When 
kickoS time arrived, we had a packed house of 65,000. 
At the half we were leading 12-7, thanks to two 
touchdown sprints by Quarterback Joe Sternaman. In 
those first two periods my contribution consisted of 
receiving a pass from Walquist for a twenty-two-yard 
gain and throwing a pass to him for twenty-three more. 
In the third period neither team scored. But in the 
last quarter I intercepted a pass intended for the 
Giants' Lynn Bomar and ran it down the side lines 
thirty yards for a touchdown. The game ended with 
the Bears on the long end of a 19-7 victory. 

The Bears took a terrific physical beating against 
New York. Although we had won, it was one of the 
most bruising battles I had ever been in. I especially 
remember one play when Joe Alexander, the Giants' 
center, almost twisted my head off in making a tackle. 

101 



It was clear we were all beginning to show the wear 
and tear of our crowded schedule. After that en 
counter with the Giants, the Bears were no longer 
able to field a team free of injuries. 

We were due in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday to 
play another exhibition, but Pyle and I decided for 
business reasons to remain in New York an extra day. 
Opening up our hotel room to all callers we collected 
about $25,000 in certified checks for endorsements of 
a sweater, shoe, cap, doll and soft drink. We turned 
down a tie-up with a cigarette company because I 
didn't smoke. 

We also signed a movie contract that day. Pyle then 
flashed a $300,000 check for the gathering reporters 
to see. Accordingly, newspapers around the country 
carried the story that I was to receive -that fantastic 
amount for becoming an actor. They even ran a photo 
graph of the draft. Unfortunately, the whole thing 
was just another one of Pyle's wild publicity stunts. 
In reality the check was a phony. We received only 
a few thousand dollars for signing the contract and 
the promise of about $5,000 per week while making 
a picture. 

Instead of getting a percentage of the gate after 
every game, as reported, I just drew money as I went 
along. It was after the fracas in the Polo Grounds that 
Pyle presented me with my first cut, a check for fifty 
thousand dollars. Although it was far below what I was 
reputed to have earned, I didn't think it too bad for 
ten days* work. 

In Washington's Clark Griffith Stadium we whipped 
102 



a local pickup team 19-0. I didn't do much, as I tried 
to save myself for the game with the Providence Steam 
rollers in Boston the next day. My contribution to 
victory was a drop-kick point after touchdown. The 
team we played in Washington was definitely not com 
posed of good football players but were, for the most 
part, a tough bunch of sand-lot players who mauled 
and roughed us up at every opportunity. 

While in Washington I was introduced to President 
Calvin Coolidge in the White House by Senator Mc- 
Kinley of Illinois. The President, more of a fisherman 
than a football fan, simply asked me where I lived and 
wished me luck. 

Arriving in Boston on Wednesday morning, De 
cember 9th, for the game with the Steamrollers, the 
Bears were in a pitiful condition, with many of us 
bandaged from head to foot. I was in particularly bad 
shape. I had hurt my left arm in New York and it was 
still badly swollen. Andy Lotshaw, the Bears 7 trainer, 
worked feverishly all night on the train to help ease 
our miseries and prepare us for the next assault. 

Under such conditions it was to be expected the 
Bears would not fare well against the Providence 
eleven. We lost 9-6 and the best I could do was 
eighteen yards on five tries. I attempted three for 
ward passes and had one intercepted. My arm was in 
such pain I couldn't do anything right. Jim Crowley 
and Don Miller of the famous Notre Dame Four 
Horsemen played in the backfield for the Steamrollers. 

I was booed for the first time in my football career 
in the Boston game. It made me aware of something 

103 



I had never thought of before that the public's at 
titude toward a professional football player is quite 
different from the manner in which they view a col 
lege gridder. A pro's performance is evaluated much 
more critically and he is less likely to be forgiven 
when a mistake is made. A pro must deliver, or else. 

It was reported I was a very dejected young man 
after that experience in Boston. Babe Ruth was sup 
posed to have come into the locker room following 
the game to offer some sage words of advice. "Don't 
get too thin skinned. You've got to expect a lot of 
knocks in the professional racket and you've got to 
take a lot of criticism and a lot of insults that you 
didn't get before/' the papers had him saying to me. 
The fact of the matter is I saw Ruth before the game 
only when we took some publicity pictures together. 
His personal remarks were limited to, "Hi-yah, kid. 
How you doing?" We then got to talking about base 
ball 

We were due in Pittsburgh the next day, December 
10th, for an exhibition with the Pittsburgh All-Stars 
in the Pirates' ball park. I should never have played. 
My left arm was swollen to almost twice its normal 
size and the pain was excruciating. Before the game 
Alvin "Bo" McMillin, the one-time All-American from 
Centre College, who gained further fame in later years 
as head football coach at Indiana University and of the 
Detroit Lions in the National League, dropped in to 
say hello in the locker room. When he saw the condi 
tion of my arm he strongly advised my sitting out the 
game. I should have followed his advice, but it was 
104 



impossible on such short notice. Our contract with the 
local Pitt promoter called for my playing at least thirty 
minutes, as in all previous games with the Bears. 

It had rained heavily the day before and when it 
was followed by freezing temperatures the turf on the 
playing field became like a ripped-up concrete road. 
We began the Pitt game with ten men on the field 
and several minutes went by before anybody realized 
it. The Bears, with no able-bodied men left among 
them, matched to see who would start. 

Before the game was a few minutes old I was struck 
on my sore arm when I threw a block for our right 
halfback Johnny Mohardt. The physician for the Pitts 
burgh club ordered that I be taken out when it ap 
peared a blood vessel in the arm ruptured and was 
causing a hemorrhage. I played no more that day. Un 
aware at the moment that I was severely injured, the 
crowd jeered as I left the field. The final score was 
24-0, favor of the All-Stars. 

En route to Pittsburgh from Boston we changed 
trains in New York. By that time the newspapers were 
filled with stories about my injury. In order to escape 
from the fans and reporters who sought to learn more 
about my condition, Pyle had me put on a teammate's 
cloth coat and flat hat when we got into the station 
while the other boy sported my fedora and raccoon 
coat. 

After the Pitt debacle the Bears were scheduled to 
wind up the regular season by playing three more 
games in the next three days. The first one, an exhibi 
tion in Cleveland against an all-star team, was canceled 

105 



when Pyle and the Bears' management decided it 
would be sure suicide to play without at least one day's 
rest. The promoter of the game was completely unsym 
pathetic and sued us for breach of contract. 

On Saturday I still wasn't well enough to don a 
uniform, but Halas and Sternaman's men kept a date 
with the Detroit Panthers in the motor city. Our bat 
tered Chicago eleven did nothing more than go 
through the motions and ended up getting whacked 
21-0 before a small crowd of six thousand. The money 
for more than nine thousand tickets had to be refunded 
when it was announced I wouldn't be able to play. 
Jimmy Conzelman, owner-coach and right halfback of 
the Panthers, bemoaned the fact that he lost his one 
and only chance for a profitable day since he bought 
the team. 

At Detroit I was introduced to the crowd at half 
time by the field announcer who blared, "The gentle 
man on my right is Red Grange, football's most famous 
player." The crowd let out with an enthusiastic cheer. 
Then as I walked off the field a couple of fans came 
down from the stands and almost yanked my good arm 
out of the socket. 

The Bears braced themselves for their final effort 
against the New York Giants in Wrigley Field on Sun 
day, December 13th. There was a large advance ticket 
sale for the game, but when the Bears' team physician 
ruled out the possibility of my playing, the ticket 
booths at the Cubs' ball park remained open all day 
Sunday to refund money to those who wished it. Many 
106 



thousands claimed refunds, but there were still over 
fifteen thousand in the stands at game time. 

I sat on the bench during the entire contest, an 
unhappy witness to the Bears' fourth straight loss, 9-0. 
Even though I didn't get into the game, I had to be 
escorted out of the park to a waiting taxicab by a dozen 
policemen, to avoid the surging autograph seekers. 

I felt badly about disappointing the fans when I had 
to withdraw from the Pittsburgh game and then not 
play at all against Detroit and New York. But I 
couldn't risk permanent injury. One doctor really 
scared me when he said the blood clot which formed 
in my arm as a result of the ruptured blood vessel 
might travel through my body and, if it reached my 
heart, could be fatal. 

To sum up, the Bears played ten football games in 
seventeen days, seven of them in the short span of ten 
days. This was in addition to the ten games they played 
prior to my joining the team. It was a killing pace un 
der any circumstances, but especially so when con 
sidering the team carried only eighteen men. Today a 
professional football team lists thirty-three players on 
its squad and plays about seventeen exhibition and 
league games in better than a four-month period. No 
other team before or since has ever attempted such a 
grueling schedule as the 1925 Bears and I'm sure 
never will. 



107 



12 



Seven -Thousand -Mile Tour 



AFTER THE 9-0 licking administered by the 
Giants in Chicago's Wrigley Field on December 13, 
1925, the Bears had eight days to relax before begin 
ning the eight-game winter tour that Charlie Pyle had 
arranged. I went back to Wheaton to rest my injured 
arm and visit with my father and brother. For the first 
time in my life I had money and got a big kick out of 
being able to afford certain luxuries for my family. 
For Christmas I bought a roadster for Garland and 
presented Dad with a check for one thousand dollars. 
A few weeks earlier I paid the five hundred dollars 
that was due on the raccoon coat I got for myself shortly 
before leaving the Illinois campus. 

On Monday, December 21st, I left Chicago with a 
greatly strengthened Bears team for Coral Gables, 
Florida, where we were due to open our exhibition 
schedule on Christmas Day. Before leaving for the 
South, Halas and Sternaman made some player re 
placements and raised the number of the squad from 
eighteen to twenty-two men. Some of our new team 
members were Paul Goebel, end; Roy Lyman, tackle; 
Richard Vick, quarterback; Harold Erickson, halfback; 
and Ralph Claypool, center. Vick had played with the 

108 



Detroit Panthers that fall and Erickson and Claypool 
saw service with the Chicago Cardinals. Goebel was 
a former All-American at Michigan. 

When we arrived in Coral Gables, two days before 
the game, we found the town in the midst of a big 
land boom. Almost everyone I met was a real-estate 
agent. Lots changed hands two or three times a day 
and money seemed to be as plentiful as the water in 
the nearby ocean. 

Pyle, Halas and Sternaman were unhappy upon 
discovering that the site of our initial gridiron venture 
in the southland was just a big, open sand field. Their 
concern soon changed to absolute amazement when 
an army of carpenters, working twenty-four hours 
around the clock, erected a 25,000-seat stadium in time 
for the contest. With tickets ranging in price from 
$5.50 to $18.00, the local promoter figured, despite 
our $25,000 guarantee, to make a killing. He was very 
definitely overoptimistic, for even in inflated Coral 
Gables the fast money boys considered the prices ex 
orbitant and only 8,000 tickets were sold. 

Getting back to the game, we won 7-0 against an 
All-Star team led by Tim Callahan, former Ail-Amer 
ican center from Yale. With my sore left wing 
nearly healed, I made ninety-eight yards in nine tries 
and scored the only touchdown. The day afterward the 
newly-built stadium was torn down. 

From Coral Gables we took a short train ride to 
Tampa, then spent the next four days basking in the 
Florida sun. On New Year's Day we played the Tampa 
Cardinals whose line-up included Jim Thorpe and five 

109 



other Carlisle University luminaries. Thorpe was about 
forty-one years old at that time and hadn't played 
much in the past several years, but it was thought to 
be a good publicity stunt to bring him down to Tampa 
for this contest. Pathetically out of shape, the once- 
fabulous Indian athlete fumbled several times and 
had a terrible time trying to move around with his old 
time speed. 

Early in the fourth quarter I broke a 3-3 tie with 
the Tampa eleven by running seventy yards down the 
sidelines for a score. The Bears went on to make an 
other tally and we ended up notching a 17-3 win. 

The next Saturday, January 2nd, we met the Jack 
sonville All-Stars in Jacksonville and earned a 19-6 
victory. The opposition was captained by Ernie Nevers, 
the brilliant All-American fullback from Stanford. 
Making his professional debut, Nevers was the out 
standing performer of the game both on defense and 
offense. He intercepted two Bear passes and rolled up 
consistent yardage as a ball carrier. Twice he stopped 
me when it appeared I was about to break into the 
clear for a long run. My lone contribution to victory 
was a thirty-yard pass to our right end, Verne Mullen, 
for a touchdown. 

We had another long layoff before our next game in 
New Orleans. This time it was almost a week. The play 
ers lapped up some more sunshine and gorged them 
selves with shrimp. On Sunday, January 10th, we 
played and defeated Captain Lester Lautenschlager, 
formerly of Tulane, and his All-Southern eleven, 14-0, 
I gained 136 yards in sixteen plays and scored one of 
110 



the touchdowns. My longest run of the contest, a 51- 
yard punt return, was called back for offensive 
holding. 

From New Orleans we traveled over 1,800 miles 
by rail to Los Angeles where the following Saturday 
we played the Los Angeles Tigers in the Coliseum. A 
crowd of 75,000 turned out. It was said at the time to 
be the largest gathering ever recorded for a gridiron 
battle in the West. 

We beat the Tigers 17-7. I scored both touchdowns 
and Joe Sternaman drop-kicked for the Bears' field 
goal. Right Halfback Roy Baker scored the lone tally 
for the Tigers, but George Wilson, the former Wash 
ington University Ail-American halfback, was easily 
the star of the game as he carried the ball twenty-six 
times and stacked up 123 yards for the Calif ornians. 

The next day, Sunday, January 17th, the Bears 
played in a San Diego high-school stadium against a 
local outfit called the California All-Stars, and we won 
14-0. 1 was listless throughout most of the game until 
late in the last quarter when I broke away for a touch 
down. 

While in Los Angeles I learned much to my sur 
prise that a street in nearby Glendale had been named 
after me. The city council of Glendale discovered one 
day the town had an unnamed street, and when one of 
the council members, who was a football fan, suggested 
they call it "Grange Street," the choice was unani 
mously approved. 

A week later, January 24th, the Bears met the San 
Francisco Tigers in Frisco's Kezar Stadium. The Ti- 

111 



gers, a makeshift team assembled a couple of weeks be 
fore, were captained again by George Wilson. This time 
we were unable to break through their tight defense,, 
and bowed 14-7 before 25,000 frenzied partisans. Wil 
son was the standout for the victors until he injured 
his head early in the final period and had to be taken 
out. 

On Saturday, January 30th, we played in Portland,. 
Oregon, against another team led by George Wilson 
called the Longshoremen. Still smarting from our only 
defeat thus far of the winter tour, the Bears won by a 
rout 60-3. I scored two touchdowns, one in the first 
period on a fifteen-yard pass from Walquist, and one 
in the second quarter on a forty-five-yard run. Just 
before the end of the second period I was badly 
shaken up in a pile-up and didn't get back into the 
game for the entire second half. 

The day following we ended our tour in Seattle,. 
Washington, by beating the Washington All-Stars 34- 
0. With Wilson at the helm once more, the team was 
composed of many of the same players we faced in 
Portland. Again I played only the first half, but got 
loose for two touchdowns and gained ninety-nine yards 
in nine attempts. 

I received my second $50,000 check from Pyle im 
mediately after the game in Seattle. Counting the 
money I drew weekly, I had earned nearly $125,000 
in my first season as a professional football player. 
Charlie had kept his word. Now I thought I could 
go on to make it a million* 

The Bears' eight-game exhibition series wasn't 
112 



nearly as hard on any of us physically as the ten-game 
schedule that followed my joining the team on Thanks 
giving Day. I found it no strain to play a minimum of 
thirty minutes in every one of the games on the winter 
trip. What made the difference was the fact that we 
had five and a half weeks in which to play the eight 
tilts, besides having four more teammates to share the 
load. Nevertheless, we were all in need of a good long 
vacation. The Bears had played a total of twenty-eight 
games from the start of their season early in Septem 
ber, 1925, and I had appeared in twenty-four contests 
counting the eight games of my senior year at Illinois. 
When I became a member of the Chicago Bears it 
was considered a move of such importance in the sports 
world, many of the outstanding sports writers of the 
day like Westbrook Pegler, Ford Frick and Damon 
Runyon were assigned by their syndicates and papers 
to travel with the team. They wrote about anything 
and everything that happened to me. Because of the 
reams of copy given over to me and the tremendous 
public interest it stirred up, the Bears were able to 
attract over 360,000 fans in eighteen games from 
Thanksgiving Day, 1925, to January 31, 1926. More 
than 150,000 of this impressive total was recorded on 
the exhibition junket that started Christmas Day. We 
covered one end of the country to the other, making 
in excess of 7,000 miles in the swing from Coral Ga 
bles to Seattle and back to Chicago again. We made 
enough pro-football converts all over the land to give 
the sport the shot in the arm it so badly needed and, 
from the 1925 season on, professional football began 
to grow steadily in popularity* 

113 



13 

Pyle's Rival League 



AS THE SEASON OF 1926 approached, Charlie 
Pyle pressed George Halas and Ed Sternaman for an 
interest in the Chicago Bears. He brought up the 
record-breaking attendance figures of the previous 
year and argued that the only chance the Bear owners 
had to continue prospering at the box office were if I 
remained with their Chicago club. When they turned 
Pyle down, he asked the National Football League for 
a franchise to operate a new team out of New York. 
He figured to build the eastern property around me 
and call it the New York Yankees. Unfortunately, the 
League moguls were unable to grant the promoter's 
request when Tim Mara, owner of the New York 
Giants football organization, refused to relinquish his 
territorial rights in New York. 

The enterprising Pyle then decided to set up a brand 
new football league of his own in competition with the 
National Football League. He hired "Big Bill' 1 Ed 
wards, the former Princeton All-American, to be 
president at $25,000 per year, and named the newly 
born circuit the American Professional Football 
League. It was composed of the following nine teams: 
the Chicago Bulls; the Rock Island Independents; the 
114 



Cleveland Panthers; the Brooklyn Horsemen; the 
Boston Bulldogs; the Newark Bears; the Philadelphia 
Quakers; the Los Angeles Wildcats and the New York 
Yankees. The Wildcats were to be the traveling club. 
Pyle had a controlling interest in the League, part 
interest with George Wilson in the Wildcats and a 
fifty-fifty interest with me in the Yankees. Arrange 
ments were made with Ed Barrow of the New York 
Yankees baseball team to lease their new 65,000-seat 
stadium for all our home games. 

Our Yankee football squad was made up of some 
outstanding former college players. Coached by Ralph 
Scott, former All-American from Wisconsin, we had 
such big names as Pooley Hubert, All-American 
halfback at Alabama, Wes Fry, All-American fullback 
at Iowa, and Eddie Tyron, former All-American half 
back at Colgate and the East's greatest scorer. 

The Yankees opened the season on Sunday, Septem 
ber 26, 1926, against the Cleveland Panthers in Cleve 
land's Luna Park Bowl. We attracted a gate of 22,000, 
the largest crowd ever assembled in Cleveland for a 
football game. We lost the opener to the Panthers 
10-0, and my best effort of the day was a twenty-one- 
yard runback of a punt late in the second quarter. The 
fact that we didn't have sufficient time to practice be 
fore our initial appearance resulted in the team lack 
ing the co-ordination needed to produce a winning 
combination. 

In the next three weeks the Yankees played four 
games in Rock Island, Boston, Hartford and Chicago, 
winning all but one of the battles. We whipped the 

115 



Rock Island Independents 26-0, the Boston Bulldogs 
13-G and the New Britain All-Stars, in an exhibition 
contest, 19-0 before succumbing 14-0 to the Chicago 
Bulls in Comiskey Park. Halfback Johnny Mohardt, 
one-time Notre Dame star, scored both touchdowns 
for the Bulls and Joe Sternaman, late of the Chicago 
Bears, kicked the field goal. In those four tilts I crossed 
the goal line four times, but still wasn't playing my 
best football Eddie Tyron provided our greatest 
strength on offense. 

On Saturday, October 16th, the day before our 
game with the Bulls, I went down to Champaign to 
catch a glimpse of some of my old teammates in ac 
tion. It was great fun assuming the role of a spectator 
and cheering Illinois on to a 13-6 victory over the 
Iowa Hawkeyes. When someone spotted me in the 
stands I was asked over the loudspeaker system to stand 
up and wave to the crowd. This was the first time I had 
been back in Memorial Stadium since leaving the cam 
pus the previous fall. 

The Yankees drew small crowds in Rock Island, 
Boston and Hartford. This was due in part to those 
cities not being large enough to support major-league 
football and everyone wanting to stay at home near 
their radios to listen to the World Series baseball 
games between the St. Louis Cardinals and the New 
York Yankees. That was the memorable 1926 series 
in which the Cardinals bested the Yanks in seven 
games with the aid of the then forty-year-old "OF 
Pete" Alexander's two masterful pitching victories 
and his breathtaking relief job in the final contest. 
116 



With the World Series ending in New York on Sun 
day afternoon, October 10th, Charlie Pyle launched 
an ambitious professional tennis tour in Madison 
Square Garden that night. Not content with merely 
founding a new pro-football league, Pyle had talked 
Suzanne Lenglen and Vincent Richards, two of the 
world's most famous amateur tennis players, into 
touring the United States and Japan for a fancy price. 
In August of that year, Pyle went to France himself 
to sign Mademoiselle Lenglen to a contract, and then 
brought the French star and her mother back to the 
States on the U.S.S. Leviathan. 

Paul Feret, Harvey Snodgrass, Howard Kinsey and 
Mary Browne, four other former top-ranking ama 
teur tennis players, completed the pro troop which 
toured the country for nearly four months. In the mid 
dle of February, 1927, when Richards took suddenly 
ill with yellow jaundice and Suzanne Lenglen asked 
for more money, Pyle was forced to permanently dis 
band his new sports attraction. In spite of Mademoi 
selle Lenglen's demands, she was reputed to have made 
$100,000 up to that time, while Pyle split about half 
that amount with Bill Pickens, his Eastern associate 
in the venture. All reports to the contrary, I didn't 
have a thing to do with that tennis tour, financially or 
otherwise. My job was to play football and, as far as 
I was concerned, that was enough to worry about. 

On Sunday, October 24th, we played our first home 
game of the season in New York's Yankee Stadium. 
Before twenty thousand onlookers we eked out a 6-0 
win over George Wilson's Wildcats when Eddie Tyron 

117 



got away for a spectacular eighty-yard touchdown gal 
lop in the second half. A week later we were forced to 
cancel a game with the Newark Bears when a torrential 
downpour flooded the playing field and raised havoc 
with New York's transportation system. 

During the two-week period immediately following 
the washout with Newark, the Yankees and I got hot 
and made it four straight on our home grounds. We 
whipped Rock Island 35-0, Brooklyn 21-13, and Boston 
24-0. In the Rock Island tilt I tallied only once, but 
against Brooklyn and Boston experienced my two best 
days of the season when I rolled up a total of thirty- 
three points with five touchdowns and three conver 
sions. 

By the end of October, 1926, Pyle's new football 
league began having its troubles. With the exception 
of Chicago, Philadelphia, New York and the traveling 
Wildcats, most of the clubs in the circuit were losing 
heavily. At this stage in the season Cleveland and 
Newark were forced to withdraw from the league for 
lack of sufficient funds. Several weeks later the Brook 
lyn team under the leadership of Harry Stuhldreher, 
one of the Four Horsemen ot Notre Dame, left our 
ranks and merged with the weak Brooklyn Lions of 
the National Football League. Earl Britton, my 
former teammate at Illinois and with the Bears, auto 
matically went along with Stuhldreher, since he was 
the regular fullback with the Brooklyn Horsemen. 

The new Brooklyn combination played their first 
game in the senior loop on November 21st, and were 
shut out 20-0 by the Los Angeles Californians. On the 
118 



same Sunday, one week after we had soundly trounced 
Boston, the Yankees* fortunes took a sudden turn. We 
got beaten by the Wildcats in Yankee Stadium 16-6, 
and I had to leave the game near the end of the first 
half with a badly bruised left side. 

Four days later, on Thanksgiving Day, we suffered 
our second setback in a row with a 13-10 loss to the 
Philadelphia Quakers in Yankee Stadium. I was forced 
to retire in the third period when the hip injury I 
received in the encounter with the Wildcats was se 
verely aggravated. With just one day of rest the Yan 
kees and Quakers met again on Saturday with almost 
identical results. Playing in Philadelphia's Shibe Park, 
we lost 13-6 while I sat out the entire game nursing my 
bruises. Before the second contest with the Philly 
eleven the Yankees stood a good chance to win the 
league championship, but the Quakers' two victories 
clinched it for themselves. Philadelphia had not 
played as many games as our New York team, but their 
won-and-lost record was considerably better. 

With a record of three losses in a row, the Yankees 
went back to New York the very next day to face the 
Chicago Bulls in the final home game of the season. 
Because of our recent poor showing and my sore hip 
still preventing me from playing, only 2,500 fans paid 
their way into the huge Yankee Stadium to watch us 
get back in the win column with a 7-0 conquest of the 
Bulls. Eddie Tyron provided the margin of victory by 
scoring all the Yankee points. After the battle, Tim 
Mara of the football Giants, who by then was getting 
used to the idea of having two teams in New York, 

119 



challenged the Yankees to a game in either the Polo 
Grounds or Yankee Stadium on Sunday, December 
12th. Pyle couldn't accept the tempting offer due to a 
previous commitment to play the Bulls in Chicago on 
that date. If a Giant- Yankee game had been arranged, 
it certainly would have attracted a huge gate. 

We beat the Bulls 7-3 on a field of mud, ice and 
water in Comiskey Park. It was our second win in 
three contests with the Bulls. I played the first half 
and part of the fourth quarter, but with my bruised 
hip still bothering me and the footing on the field 
treacherous, I couldn't do much. I crossed the goal 
line once in the first period only to have the play 
called back for holding in the line. Our game-winning 
touchdown was supplied by Halfback Larry Marks, 
formerly of Indiana University. Despite the fog and 
slush that prevailed in Chicago, we pulled 8,000 fans 
to the game. Across town at Wrigley Field, seven 
thousand bought their way into the park to see a Na 
tional League game between the Chicago Bears and 
Pottsville which ended up in a 9-7 victory for the 
Bears. This should give some idea of how professional 
football was catching on with the fans in the Windy 
City and how the two rival leagues were battling it 
out for patronage. 

The Yankees ended their first year of regular season 
play with only average artistic and financial success. 
We played a total of fourteen games and suffered five 
losses, winding up in second place in the league stand 
ings. In seven games at Yankee Stadium we drew about 
120 



116,000, while attracting in the neighborhood of 100,- 
000 in seven games on the road. 

Within a week after finishing off the Bulls in Chi 
cago, the Yankees took to the road again on a ten-game 
winter exhibition trip. We toured the towns of Texas 
and California with a team organized by George Wilson 
and called Wilson's Wildcats. The injury to my side 
was sufficiently healed so that I was able to play in all of 
the games. About the only memorable part of the tour 
was the night in Dallas, Texas, when several of the 
players and I were arrested and fined ten dollars apiece 
for allegedly disturbing the peace. All we did was 
walk into a night spot that a policeman recommended 
as a place for laughs. To this day I'm trying to figure 
that one out. 



121 



14 

Hollywood Bound 



i WENT TO Hollywood to make my first movie 
In June, 1926. That was the summer after my initial 
season of professional football. Before I left for the 
coast I took a much-needed four-month rest in Whea- 
ton. I had great fun puttering around the three-story 
house I bought for Dad, Garland and myself several 
months earlier. We remodeled the outside with stucco 
and had Marshall Field & Company completely furnish 
the interior. The den on the third floor was like a 
private club. It had wood-paneled walls, leather 
couches and chairs, a pool table, poker tables and a 
bar. Dad particularly enjoyed entertaining his cronies 
up there. I also built a four-car garage on the lot next 
door and equipped it with a grease pit, gasoline pump, 
compression air pump, automatic tire gauge and every 
imaginable automotive tool. Since we had four cars 
between the three of us, we made good use of the ga 
rage's facilities. There was nothing I relished more 
than getting into some old clothes and working on 
the family cars. 

Charlie Pyle set out for Hollywood several weeks 
before me in order to make all the necessary arrange 
ments prior to my arrival. When I joined him I found 
122 



he had spared few expenses to make our stay In the 
film capital as comfortable as possible. He rented two 
luxurious suites in the Ambassador Hotel, one for our 
living quarters, the other for an office. With Charlie 
everything had to be done on a grandiose scale. Beans 
DeWolf, my boyhood chum from Wheaton, was the 
third member of our party. He acted as our traveling 
secretary and business manager. 

Bill Pickens, a successful sports promoter and friend 
of Pyle's, was a resident of Hollywood when we were 
there, and since he knew almost everyone worth know 
ing in the town, was very helpful in introducing us 
around. Shortly after I arrived, Pickens took me over 
to meet Jim Jeffries, the former heavyweight box 
ing champ. Big Jim had a home in nearby Burbank 
and was very proud of his vegetable garden. When I 
showed some interest in what seemed like an onion 
patch, Jim smiled and said, "Go ahead, pick some, 
take 'em back to the hotel with you." I did. The next 
morning our suite almost had to be fumigated. It 
turned out the onions were not really onions, but gar 
lic. Pyle, Pickens and Jeffries ribbed me about that 
for days. 

Sometime later I happened to drop in to an ex 
clusive haberdashery shop which was owned partly 
by Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. Doug was in the store at 
the time and offered to match me double or nothing 
for a tweed suit I picked out. When I won, Fairbanks 
wrote on the inside label, "This suit is on you, but it's 
on me/' I proudly kept that suit for nearly fifteen 
years. 

123 



When I reported for work at the old FBO Studios, 
now known as RKO, Ed King, the head man in 
charge of production, really put out the welcome mat. 
After I was assigned to a comfortable dressing room, 
he took me on a personally conducted tour of the lot. 
Except for King and the other studio officials at FBO, 
no one else in Hollywood paid much attention to me. 
Several big names from the athletic world had already 
appeared in films, but failed to make much of an im 
pression on the movie-going public. There were many 
who did not expect me to fare any better. 

The film the studio had set for me was a rah-rah col 
lege story entitled One Minute To Play. The plot dealt 
with the adventures of a youth whose football record 
at high school was considerably better than his class 
marks. When he finished high school his father sent 
him off to college only after he agreed not to play 
football there. Due to a mix-up that took place on the 
train, the young man ended up at the wrong school 
and subsequently broke his promise to his father 
about playing football. Right before the crucial game 
of the season the father discovered his son's deception 
and descended upon the scene raising havoc with all 
concerned in an attempt to keep the boy from further 
participating in the sport. However, he finally re 
lented. In the closing minutes of play in the big game 
Red Wade, the young hero of the yarn, is allowed to 
get back into uniform and singlehandedly clinches a 
victory for his Alma Mater. Of the dramatic finale to 
the picture Mae Tinee, the movie critic of the Chicago 
Tribune, had this to say: "The picture ends with an 
124 



honest-to-goodness game that is considerable of a sen 
sation." As I portrayed the role of Red Wade, Miss 
Tinee went on: "If you've never seen Red Grange play 
football, now's your chance, for he plays it like every 
thing in this picture." 

Others in the film were Charles Ogle as Mr. Wade 
and Edythe Chapman as Red Wade's mother. Mary 
McAllister was cast as Sally Rogers, young Wade's 
girl friend, Lee Shumway as the football coach, Jay 
Hunt as Mr. Todd, the college prexy, and football star 
George Wilson as the key player on the opposing team. 
The screenplay for One Minute To Play, written by 
Byron Morgan, was later novelized by Harold Sherman 
and won favorable acceptance by the reading public. 
The movie itself turned out to be surprisingly good 
and did a brisk business at the box office. 

The football sequences of One Minute To Play were 
shot in the middle of July with the temperatures in 
the high nineties. For the crowd scenes at the game 
the producer needed a large number of people. Ordi 
narily he could count on a good turnout to watch the 
filming of the picture and thus eliminate the necessity 
of hiring thousands of extras, but due to the hot 
weather, those in attendance would certainly be clad 
in shirt sleeves, straw hats and blouses. Since the game 
was supposed to be played in the Midwest on a fall 
afternoon, the crowd couldn't be shown in such attire. 
Charlie Pyle came up with the solution to the prob 
lem. He induced the studio to put an advertisement in 
one of the Los Angeles papers that George Wilson's 
team would play Red Grange's team in a regulation 

125 



game, and admission was free to anyone who came 
dressed in fall apparel. The results of Pyle's brainstorm 
were unbelievable. Fifteen thousand die-hard football 
fans turned out in felt hats, scarves, coats and jackets, 
and when seen on the screen couldn't be distinguished 
from a crowd on a chilly fall day in Ohio or Illinois. 

The people at FBO were all very considerate and 
co-operative. Our director, Sam Wood, and script 
writer, Byron Morgan, were especially helpful. Wood 
and Morgan teamed up to do many of the early screen 
successes which starred such big names as Gloria 
Swanson and Wallace Reid. I became particularly fond 
of Sam Wood and often thought he would have made 
a great football coach because he could get a lot out of 
you the easy way. During my first summer in Holly 
wood I rarely did anything but work. The only relaxa 
tion I had was when Director Wood let me off early a 
few afternoons to watch the Los Angeles Angels play 
ball. 

Making One Minute To Play was the worst drudgery 
I'd ever experienced. It took us a little better than 
four weeks of actual shooting time to complete the 
movie. To do the football sequences I spent ten 
straight scorching hot days in front of the cameras 
from dawn to sundown in full football regalia. By the 
time I got back to the hotel at night I cared about 
nothing except falling into bed. I was so tired and 
bored that I counted the days until the film was com 
pleted so I could get back to Wheaton. 

While working in the picture I had no idea how it 
was turning out. I performed my job every day with- 
126 



out keeping an account of the story line. Although I 
was shown a few of the rushes, I didn't see the finished 
product until it premiered at Chicago's Rialto Theatre 
on October 4, 1926, some three months later. The 
Rialto was a top movie-vaudeville house in those 
days, and I appeared in person on the stage for four 
shows in place of the regularly scheduled acts the first 
day the film played there. I arranged to be in Chicago 
for that engagement between Yankee football games 
in Cleveland and Rock Island. 

Shortly after I returned home from Hollywood 
after completing One Minute To Play, I had a pretty 
good indication of how the picture turned out. I re 
ceived several congratulatory wires from the top studio 
brass telling me how pleased they were with my work 
and that in their opinion the film was one of the best 
they had ever produced. After the movie was released 
in the fall, Mr. Joseph P. Kennedy, who had a control 
ling interest in FBO, tried to talk me into giving up 
football to devote full time to making movies for his 
company. I refused his flattering offer on the grounds 
that I considered myself a football player by profession 
and not an actor. Besides, I still had a contract to play 
another year of football for Charlie Pyle and had no 
intention of running out on him. Mr. Kennedy was 
disappointed in my decision, but did not press me 
further. 

I went back to Hollywood to make my next picture 
the summer of 1927. There was a world of difference 
in my attitude the second time I went out there as 
compared to my initial exposure to the film capital. 

127 



The first summer I did little else besides perform my 
various chores at the studio and engaged in little or 
no contact with the film folk. But now things were 
different, I still worked hard to be sure, but began 
to get into the swing of Hollywood's social whirl. And 
I loved every minute of it. 

In addition to Pyle, DeWolf and myself, Ralph 
Scott, our Yankee football coach, came out to the coast 
with us that year. Instead of going back to the hotel 
we rented an elegant ten-room house on fashionable 
Gramercy Place replete with houseboy and cook. 
One day Scott, in a fit of anger, fired both of them. 
Pyle didn't appreciate the fact we were left without 
a cook. He ordered; "Ralph, since you took it upon 
yourself to let the cook go, you can have his job!" In 
stead of resenting the edict, Scott took up his new 
responsibilities with delight and remained on the job 
the rest of the time we were there. His cooking was a 
revelation, worthy of any gourmet's palate. We found 
out later that our Yankee football-mentor-turned- 
chef, had learned his art during his ranch-hand days 
in Montana. 

We had a poker circle that met once a week which 
included, in addition to Pyle, Scott and myself, Walter 
Hires, Tom Gallery, Adolph Menjou, Lloyd Hamil 
ton (of the movies), Al Green (a director at one of 
the studios), and Mark Kelly (a prominent Los An 
geles sports writer). When it was our turn to play host, 
Ralph took time out from the game to serve some of 
his delicious fried chicken and special salad. The boys 
never stopped raving about it. 
128 



Every Sunday night Tom Gallery and his wife, film 
comedienne Zazu Pitts, held a big shindig at their 
home. There was so much fun to be had at those 
parties we never missed one. Practical jokes were always 
the order of the day and before the summer was over 
just about everyone in the crowd was a victim of some 
prank. We pulled a gag on Scott one night that was a 
lulu. Gallery had a big new radio that practically ex 
tended the width of one of the walls in his living room. 
What Scott didn't know was that this electronic monster 
was also wired to a microphone upstairs and Gallery 
could cut in at any time with his own personal broad 
cast. One night while we were sitting around listening 
to a sports broadcast, another voice interrupted with a 
special news flash. The announcement said that five 
thousand students at the University of Wisconsin had 
signed a petition asking that Ralph Scott be named 
coach of their school's football team. Big Ralph was 
almost overcome with emotion upon hearing this news. 
He had been an Ail-American at Wisconsin and always 
dreamed of returning to his alma mater as head foot 
ball coach. 

"How'd you ever do it, Scotty?" he was asked. 

"Oh, I just pulled a few strings/ 1 he beamed. 

"How much money you going to get?" he was further 
questioned. 

"Oh, about six or seven thousand/' came the reply. 

Even though that amount was thought to be a high 
figure for a college coach in those days, Ralph was 
urged to hold out for more. "Don't take less than ten 
thousand/' we advised him. 

129 



By this time Scotty was worked up to a high pitch. 
He even went so far as to start diagraming some of the 
plays he would use the next season. By this time we 
didn't have the heart to carry the joke any further. We 
told him the whole thing was a hoax and that the voice 
he heard over the radio was really Tom Gallery in the 
upstairs room. Scott usually had a good sense of humor, 
but he was so crushed in this instance he didn't know 
whether to laugh or cry. 

The producers of my second Hollywood film decided 
to forego football in favor of building a story around 
racing. Morgan and Wood had had considerable suc 
cess with automobile-racing pictures before. For me, 
it was a happy decision as I welcomed the chance to do 
something else in the off season besides play football. 
Also, I always had a yen to drive racing cars, and there 
was ample opportunity to satisfy that ambition during 
the filming of that picture. 

Entitled Racing Romeo, my new movie was made 
mostly on location at the fairgrounds at Ventura, about 
fifty miles north of Hollywood. The supporting play 
ers included Walter Hires, a favorite comedian of the 
time, and Jobyna Ralston, who had appeared as a lead 
ing lady in many of Harold Lloyd's early films. Also 
in the cast were Cliff Bergere, Freddie Frame, Babe 
Stapp and Lou Moore, four of the country's leading 
race drivers. Bergere was our stunt driver. 

The plot Racing Romeo called for Hires and me to 

be cast as co-owners in the garage business. We had a 

tough time making ends meet, and our only salvation 

was to snag the prize money in the Big Race that was 

130 



coming up. We took an old battered racing car and 
patched it up with the idea of entering it in the race. 
When finished, it wasn't much to look at, but under 
the hood we had built a super power plant. The race 
was a combination road and track affair. The course, 
for the most part, was along the countryside and 
ended up on the track. As the hero of the yarn, I sped 
through haystacks, across ditches, under low bridges 
and encountered just about every kind of hazardous 
obstacle imaginable. I finally emerged the winner in 
an exciting neck-and-neck battle to the finish. 

I wanted to do my own stunt driving, but Sam 
Wood insisted Cliff Bergere do the dangerous bits. He 
didn't want to risk the chance of my getting hurt. How 
ever, I drove in all the close-up shots. We had some 
of the fastest cars in the country on hand for Racing 
Romeo and I got a terrific kick out of getting behind 
the wheel of those souped-up jobs. I often remained at 
the track hours after everyone went home in order to 
take some extra turns on my own. 

One of the people I got to know pretty well in 
connection with that picture was Barney Oldfield, 
one of the country's greatest all-time race drivers and 
auto pioneers. Bill Pickens, who was once Oldfield's 
manager, told me of the time a young, ambitious auto 
mechanic approached Barney and begged him to 
accept half-interest in his new auto-building shop in 
return for the use of Barney Oldfield's famous name 
on his cars. Oldfield was much too busy at the time to 
become involved in any business venture and report 
edly passed up the offer. The determined mechanic 

131 



went ahead without Oldfield and used his own name 
on his horseless carriages Henry Ford. 

The Rating Romeo took a little over five weeks to 
make and, like One Minute To Play, was a silent pic 
ture. Although I never got to see the finished product, 
I figured it had all the earmarks of being as good a 
film as my first one. Unfortunately however, The Rac 
ing Romeo did not do well at the box office. This may 
have been due in part to the fact that the studio did 
not promote it in the grand manner that they did my 
previous movie. Possibly the wrangling which devel 
oped between Charlie Pyle and the studio heads 
over money matters, and my refusal to devote full 
time to picturemaking, caused them to lose interest in 
me. In any event, it made little difference to me then. 
Football was my only real concern anyway. 



132 



15 

My Luck Gives Out 



THE FUTURE LOOKED bright for Charlie Pyle 
and me at the start of the 1927 football season. Charlie 
had made peace with the National Professional Foot 
ball League. He agreed to disband his rebel American 
League in exchange for a National League franchise 
for our New York Yankees. If I could only continue 
as a big gate attraction for a few more seasons, until 
the Yankees as a team developed a loyal band of fol 
lowers, we were certain to wind up as co-owners of 
very valuable football property. I didn't think I'd 
have much to worry about when my playing days were 
over. But, as I sadly discovered, fate has a strange way 
of changing one's plans. 

The Yankees opened the 1927 season in Dayton 
against the Dayton Triangles with a 6-3 victory. One 
week later, before twenty thousand in the University 
of Detroit's stadium, we whipped the Cleveland Bull 
dogs 13-7. The Bulldogs were captained by Benny 
Friedman, the former Michigan ace, who had made 
his pro debut against the New York Giants one week 
earlier. Neither Friedman nor I did any scoring, but 
my former Big Ten rival showed well as a pro quarter 
back. He tossed four passes good for a total of forty 

133 



yards, and in the third period intercepted a Yankee 
pass that should have gone for a touchdown. 

With two straight victories under our belts we pre 
pared to face the powerful Chicago Bears in Wrigley 
Field on Sunday, October 16th. A capacity crowd of 
thirty thousand turned out, which was the largest 
gathering for a professional football contest in Chi 
cago since I bowed there as a pro two years before. 
Immediately prior to the game there were riots at the 
park as thousands of fans, unable to gain admittance, 
stormed the center-field bleacher gates, climbed the 
fences and swarmed the side lines. Others rushed 
into the grandstands on the south end of the field, 
which had been boarded off for alterations. It literally 
broke Pyle's heart to see all those people get in free. 

We lost to the Bears 12-0, although I had one of the 
best days of my pro career. I averaged five yards per 
try, including runs of twenty and twenty-five yards, 
threw the only completed Yankee pass and intercepted 
one of Paddy DriscolFs long heaves. In the second 
quarter I nailed Driscoll on the eleven-yard line after 
the Bear quarterback ran a Yankee kickoff back eighty- 
four yards through our entire team. In the final half 
minute of play, Eddie Tyron faded back to toss me a 
pass in a desperate, last-ditch effort to score. As I 
reached up high for the ball, I collided with Center 
George Trafton of the Bears. My cleats got caught in 
the ground as I fell, and when Trafton accidentally 
toppled on me I twisted my right knee. I felt an ex 
cruciating pain in the knee and was unable to get up. 
As I lay on the ground the crowd cheered words of 
134 



encouragement. Hundreds formed lines around me a 
few minutes later when I was hurried into the dressing 
room. No one knew it then, but they had seen the 
Galloping Ghost gallop for the last time. 

This was the fourth time in almost ten years of or 
ganized football that I was seriously injured. I had 
been cracked in the head at Toledo while playing my 
final season at Wheaton High, got my shoulder banged 
up against Minnesota my junior year at Illinois, suf 
fered a badly bruised arm my first season of pro ball 
with the Bears, yet survived these injuries to come 
back stronger than ever. But now, with my leg in 
volved, it was a different matter for a football player 
depends more upon his legs than any other part of his 
body. They are his greatest single asset. When the 
power and maneuverability of a player's legs are de 
stroyed, he loses forever his effectiveness. Such was the 
case with me. 

My injury was diagnosed as a torn tendon. Then, 
when the knee started to swell, it was suspected that 
water had formed on it as a complication. I couldn't 
stand on my right limb nor bend it without severe 
pain. Numerous specialists examined me, but none 
agreed on what to prescribe. Some advised surgery, 
some rest, others diathermy treatments. I followed the 
latter treatment and it seemed to help a little. How 
ever, I hobbled around for the next four weeks on 
crutches, still in misery when I put weight on the leg. 
During that period I appeared in uniform at all the 
Yankee games, but limited my activity to being in 
troduced at half time. With all this I was confident 

135 



the injured leg would respond to treatment and I 
would be ready to return to action before too long. 

The attendance at Yankee games fell off badly after 
my injury, and Pyle and I became deeply concerned 
about it. To make it worse, I was bound by contract 
with the other teams in the National League to play 
in all Yankee games as long as I was in one piece. With 
such pressure on me I forced myself to return to the 
football wars against the Chicago Cardinals in Yankee 
Stadium on November 13th, just four weeks after that 
fateful day in Chicago. 

Shifting from left halfback to quarterback so I 
wouldn't be called upon to do much running, I was 
just a shell of my former self in that Cardinal game. 
The Yankees won 20-6 that day, in spite of me. Eddie 
Tyron was the star of the game. The Yankee stalwart 
scored twice and was all over the field. Even though 
we won by a comfortable margin, it was a tough battle. 
Our right halfback, Roy "Bullet*' Baker, the former 
Southern California star, suffered four broken ribs 
and two fractures in his left hand and was lost to us for 
the remainder of the season. In reporting the game 
The New York Times wrote: 

It was a gallant effort by the former Illinois flash 
and it was roundly applauded. However, Grange 
could not limp fast enough to cover passes and 
could not back up the line with efficiency. He did 
carry the ball and he did catch a pass and also 
threw others. But each time there were a lot of 
136 



people holding their breath lest that very obvi 
ously bandaged leg give way. 

I should never have returned to action as soon as I 
did. As careful as I tried to be, the injury to the knee 
was aggravated in that Cardinal battle and the next 
day a plaster cast was put on my leg from the middle 
of the thigh halfway down the calf. The doctor warned 
that the cast might have to remain on for some time. 
Disregarding the doctor's orders, Pyle and I agreed to 
announce to the press that I would be ready to play a 
full sixty minutes against Benny Friedman's Cleveland 
Bulldogs on Thanksgiving Day, just eleven days hence. 
Since our team wasn't drawing much at the gate with 
out me, it was decided to cancel an exhibition contest 
scheduled the Sunday between the Cardinal and Bull 
dog games. 

Against Cleveland on November 24th we lost 30-19 
before twenty thousand onlookers in Yankee Stadium. 
As promised, I played most of the game. It was the first 
Yankee defeat of the season on our home grounds. 
Playing at quarterback again I didn't do any running, 
but got off a few completed forward passes for short 
gains. However, I might just as well have remained 
on the sidelines since I didn't contribute much to our 
team's over-all offense or defense. I was in bad shape 
and I knew it, but I couldn't give up. No one in the 
stands that day knew I left my cane in the dressing 
room before coming out on the field. 

Three days after our loss to Cleveland, the Yankees 
were beaten again in Providence by the Providence 

137 



Steamrollers. This time it was by a 14-7 margin. I 
played the entire first half. Although I didn't carry 
the ball, I threw six passes, completing four for gains 
aggregating seventy-five yards, and caught two Tyron 
passes good for a total of forty-three yards. Inciden 
tally, on the same date the New York Giants, by beat 
ing the Chicago Bears in Chicago 13-7, won the pro 
title. 

On December 4th we battled the Giants at the 
Polo Grounds and lost our third straight 14-0 on a 
snow-sprinkled gridiron. I played the entire game al 
though still severely handicapped and in much pain. 
On occasion I seemed to flash my old form, but when 
the going got rough my knee wouldn't hold up. As 
long as I ran in a straight line it wasn't too bad, but 
when I attempted to cut, the knee folded under me, 
Hinkie Haines, the Giants' quarterback, provided the 
fans with the thrills in the opening quarter when he 
ran a Yankee kick seventy-five yards for a touchdown. 
The New York Times headline in the sports pages the 
next day read: "10,000 See Giants Beat Yankee 
Eleven, 14-0, Despite Grange's Brilliant Play." The 
story under that headline said in part: 

Grange, although severely handicapped with a 
crippled right leg, played the entire game and he 
carried more than his share of the burden. He led 
the team, directed the aerial offensive, and his 
work of running back punts was reminiscent of 
his flashy work at Illinois, which won national 
prominence for him. He showed no inclination 
138 



to save himself and when not carrying the ball 
he generally took out his man and cared for any 
other assignment that fell to the lot of the inter 
fering back. 

We wound up our regular season the following 
Sunday with another game against the Giants. This 
time we played at Yankee Stadium, and again we lost, 
by practically an identical score, 13-0. I was in at 
quarterback for almost the full sixty minutes, and 
performed nearly as well as I did the previous week 
although I still used a cane off field. To make matters 
worse, late in the game my throwing hand was badly 
bruised. In the closing minutes of play I had to be 
taken out when I was severely shaken up by three 
Giant tacklers as I tried to skirt around the left side of 
the line. 

Instead of retiring for the season and nursing my 
battered knee, I played with the Yankees through the 
month of January, 1928, on an exhibition tour of the 
Pacific coast. Pitted against various all-star teams led 
by George Wilson and Benny Friedman, I kept going 
because, at the young age of twenty-four, I refused to 
believe that I couldn't bounce back to my old form. I 
was positive I could play myself back into shape. But 
those additional games only served to further aggra 
vate my condition and, when the tour was ended, it 
became apparent I had done irreparable damage to 
the knee. For the first time since I was hurt, nearly 
four months before, I began worrying over the possi 
bility that I might be through as a football player. 

139 



16 

A Business Partnership 
Is Dissolved 



THE LAST STOP on the Yankees exhibition tour 
of the Pacific coast, the end of January, 1928, was Los 
Angeles. As long as I was out there, I thought I'd 
hang around while Charlie Pyle set the stage for his 
sponsorship of the historic Transcontinental Mara 
thon from Los Angeles to New York. I helped Char 
lie with a few details, then accompanied him along 
the route of the marathon as far as Chicago. While 
the runners tirelessly pounded the pavement, we 
traveled in grand style in the $25,000 bus Pyle had 
specially built for the event. One newspaperman cov 
ering the marathon appropriately referred to the cus 
tom-made vehicle, which was equipped with a radio, 
shower bath, kitchen, living room and bedroom with 
sleeping accommodations for six, as a "land yacht." 

The longest marathon in history, Pyle's fantastic 
sports extravaganza began in Los Angeles on Sunday, 
March 4, 1928. Nearly every race and color were rep 
resented among the 275 entrants with ages ranging 
from sixteen to sixty-three. They were after nearly 
$50,000 in prize money. The winner was to get 
$25,000, runner-up $10,000, $5,000 for third place, 

140 



$2,500 for fourth position and $1,000 each for the 
next six finishers. Additional prize money was offered 
for the best time between certain prescribed points 
along the marathon's itinerary. Charlie supposedly 
took in more than enough to defray all the expenses 
connected with the derby by selling close to half a 
million programs at twenty-five cents apiece. Since 
millions of persons watched the strange band of ath 
letes as they passed through their towns and cities, 
Pyle always contended the "Bunion Derby/ 1 as the 
marathon was more popularly called, was the greatest 
free show ever offered the American public. 

Seventy-one of the original 275 made it to Chi 
cago by May 5th. And on Saturday, May 26th, fifty- 
five weary weather-beaten runners arrived in New 
York with Andrew Payne of Claremore, Oklahoma, 
leading the pack. John Salo of Passaic, New Jersey, 
staggered in a close second. Once in New York, the 
exhausted survivors of the 3,485-mile trek across the 
country were required to wind up matters with a 
twenty-five-mile sprint in Madison Square Garden. 
Pyle had hoped to lure large crowds into the gar 
den to witness the agonizing spectacle, but only eight 
hundred bought tickets while thousands gaped out 
side. 

At this juncture I wish to emphasize that like the 
Suzanne Lenglen - Vincent Richards tennis tour and 
the numerous other Pyle promotions, I had nothing 
whatsoever to do with the "Bunion Derby" finan 
cially or otherwise. It was entirely Pyle's baby. I was 
merely an interested bystander, 

141 



I joined Charlie Pyle in New York a few days 
after the excitement of the marathon's conclusion had 
passed. It was then that we sat down to discuss the re 
newal of our now expired contract. Since my football 
future was in doubt, due to my injured knee, I de 
cided it unwise to continue our pact. I also elected to 
withdraw my interest in the New York Yankees foot 
ball team. The Yankees had been losing heavily and I 
could no longer afford to continue pouring money 
into the property. I thus ended a memorable three- 
year association with perhaps the greatest sports im 
presario the world has ever known. 

Pyle kept the Yankees intact during the regular 
1928 season with the aid of Gibby Welch, Pittsburgh's 
fine All-American back. However, despite Welch's 
brilliant play the team had a bad year, compiling a 
record of four wins, one tie and eight losses, and 
winding up in seventh place in the league standings. 
The attendance at Yankee games fell off so badly 
Charlie fell heavily in debt and was forced to drop 
the club's franchise at the end of the '28 campaign. 

During my extended stay in Los Angeles before 
tagging along with Pyle and his runners to Chicago, 
and later when I went to New York to talk contract 
with him, I continued consulting various prominent 
doctors about my knee. I was still hopeful of finding a 
cure, but received little encouragement that I would 
ever play football again. I was told that if I did, I 
might incur serious permanent injury and become 
crippled for life. My future looked black indeed. I 
didn't know quite what to do. 
142 



Back In Chicago in early June, 1928, Frank Zam- 
breno, a motion-picture distributor in the city and a 
friend of Pyle's, approached me and said he thought 
he could negotiate a picture deal in Hollywood with 
Universal Pictures if I were interested. I welcomed the 
proposition and happily set out for the coast again for 
another crack at the movies when we got the okay 
from the studio to come out there. This time, instead 
of making the trip with an entire entourage, I took 
only my father along and we rented a modest lit 
tle bungalow in Los Angeles. Dad had plenty of free 
time on his hands at this point, having retired two 
years before from duty in the sheriff's office in 
Wheaton. Once in Hollywood, the producer ran into 
story trouble and we waited around for over two 
months without anything happening. Finally, unable 
to take the inactivity any longer, I made a cash settle 
ment for the time I had lost with Carl Laemmle Jr., 
the head of the studio, and returned home with Dad. 

When the 1928 football season rolled around and 1 
was unable to return to action, I felt like a duck out 
of water. It was the first time since I was a kid in 
Wheaton that I failed to don football togs in the fall 
of the year. I was deeply concerned about the pros 
pect of being washed up as a player, but managed to 
keep my mind temporarily off my troubles by going 
on a six-month vaudeville tour that Frank Zambreno 
lined up for me. Appearing in cities like Chicago, St. 
Louis, Toledo, Brooklyn, New York, Boston, New 
Haven and Bridgeport, I did a football skit that was 
given the corny title, Cmon Red. The act was given 

143 



top billing all over the circuit and I earned a nice 
piece of change for my efforts. In Chicago, where I 
was always considered a home-town boy, I worked the 
Oriental, Paradise, Tower, Harding and Northshore 
theaters, with the assistance of such well-known 
band leaders of the day as Paul Ash, Mark Fisher, Al 
Morey and Frankie Masters. The newspaper ads, in 
announcing my appearance at the various theaters, at 
tempted to entice customers with this line of copy: 
''See Red and a big cast of entertainers in a rousing, 
rollicking revue packed with college spirit, syncopa 
tion and fun." 

In the summer of 1929 I was back in Hollywood 
again. I went out there with Zambreno when he ar 
ranged for me to do a talking picture for Nate Levine 
who had gained considerable prominence as the 
"King of the Serials/' Levine had worked up a neat, 
twelve-episode vehicle for me called The Galloping 
Ghost. Loaded with thrills and action, it was the 
story of a gang of shady characters who got involved 
in a taxicab war while making attempts to fix football 
games. As the hero of the film, I naturally appre 
hended the culprits in the end. My supporting cast 
included Dorothy Gulliver as the girl friend, with 
Stepin Fetchit and Tom Dugan supplying the comedy 
relief. 

Every chapter of The Galloping Ghost was chock 
full of breath-taking sequences. We blew up houses, 
had motorcycle and speedboat chases, jumped from 
one plane to another in mid-air, plunged autos off 
cliffs, and swung from balconies and chandeliers in 
144 



bruising gang fights. Doing practically all of the stunt 
work myself, I was black and blue from head to foot 
by the time the picture was completed. 

Making The Galloping Ghost was, without doubt, 
the most strenuous work I have ever done in my life. 
What made it even more difficult was the task of 
learning spoken lines for the first time. Talking pic 
tures were still new in 1929, and it was a difficult ad 
justment for even the most seasoned actors in Holly 
wood. 

It took just five weeks to finish the twelve chapters 
of The Galloping Ghost although its running time 
of nearly four hours was equal to the length of two 
regular features. To finish the picture in that short 
time we worked seven days a week, sometimes as 
much as eighteen hours a day. Levine would call for 
me every morning at five o'clock and we'd stop in the 
coffee shop near the studio for breakfast. As soon as it 
was light outside we were on the set ready for action. 
In the evenings the cast and crew moved indoors for 
the interior scenes. Levine had every movement of 
his movie so carefully planned there was never a min 
ute wasted. The picture did exceptionally well at the 
box office for many years and, surprisingly enough, to 
this day still enjoys frequent bookings around the 
country via television. 

In looking back upon my experiences making mo 
tion pictures and appearing briefly in vaudeville, I've 
always felt it represents one of the most memorable 
and worth-while chapters in my life. When I first re 
ported for work in the film capital back in 1926, 1 was 

145 



a shy, bashful, small-town boy despite the national 
prominence I had achieved for my football playing. 
Facing cameras, live audiences in the theaters, and 
mixing with all the stimulating people connected 
with show business did something for me. It gave me 
confidence and poise and made me feel a little bit 
more like a man of the world. 



146 



17 

Successful Comeback Attempt 



WHEN I RETURNED to Chicago from Hollywood 
in the late summer of 1929, I was in a quandary. I felt 
pretty certain in my own mind that I was through as a 
football player and thought that opinion was shared 
by just about everyone in football circles. But Frank 
Zambreno, the man who set up my vaudeville tour 
and was instrumental in my making the movie serial, 
insisted I give football another try. He told me he had 
spoken with George Halas, and the Bears' coach was 
sure that in spite of my bad knee I could still be of 
value to his team. I was dubious, but Zambreno, in 
whom I had great confidence, convinced me to at least 
discuss the matter with Halas. I finally went to see 
George and, much to my surprise, found him very 
enthusiastic about the prospect of my returning to the 
Bears as a player. In spite of my doubts I agreed to 
give it a whirl, for down deep I wanted to get back 
into football in the worst way. However, if Zambreno 
hadn't informed me of Halas' attitude, I don't think 
I would have ever approached him myself about a 
comeback. 

I wasn't in uniform very long before I discovered 

147 



that I could still run fast, but my weak knee prevented 
me from being able to cut, weave or change my pace. 
I couldn't even attempt to get fancy, for, if I did, surely 
my knee would have gone one way and me the other. 
It was clear that now I was nothing more than a 
straight runner and as such would never again be a 
strong open field threat. Not willing to settle for medi 
ocrity I began to work harder than ever on perfecting 
my defensive play. During the 1929 campaign, when 
I alternated at left halfback with Paddy Driscoll who 
was playing his last season of pro ball, Coach Halas 
usually put me in the game for pass defense when we 
were back in our own territory. Not getting many 
chances to carry the ball I recorded only two touch 
downs that first year, while on defense I missed many 
blocks and tackles during the early part of the season 
as my timing was off due to the year's absence from 
the football wars. It wasn't until the last half of the 
campaign that I began to feel at home again on a 
football field. Offensively I had my best day of the 
1929 season on October 27th against the Minneapolis 
Red Jackets. Although I didn't score in the Bears' 
27-0 rout of the Red Jackets, I passed to my brother 
Garland (who was playing his first of three seasons with 
the Bears as an end) for one tally, and then took a pass 
myself from Quarterback Joe Sternaman in the end 
zone for the extra point. The stock market crashed 
the week we played Minneapolis, and I for one was 
thankful I was lucky enough to have a job at the time. 
Like millions of other Americans I had lost most of 
my savings as a result of Wall Street's collapse. 
148 



One of the things I'll never forget about that 1929 
season was the spectacular one-man show Fullback 
Ernie Nevers of the Chicago Cardinals put on when 
we met his team in Comiskey Park on Thanksgiving 
Day, November 28th. The Cardinals, using the dou 
ble wing back formation, walloped us 40-6 that day as 
the former Stanford Ail-American scored all of his 
team's points with six touchdowns and four conver 
sions. The Bears' lone marker was made at the start of 
the second half when Fullback Walt Holmer passed 
to Garland Grange who scampered sixty yards to the 
goal. 

Incidentally, my brother "Gardie" was one of the 
finest and surest pass receivers ever to play football. 
He was also extremely fast and could run a hundred 
yards in 9.8. However, at 168 pounds he was much too 
light for pro football as it was played in those days. 
Because of his lack of weight, he was handicapped on 
defense, but I've always maintained that if he were to 
be used strictly as an offensive end in the platoon sys 
tem that came into football some years later, he could 
have been one of football's greatest stars. Though he 
played only two seasons at Illinois, "Gardie" is rated 
by Bob Zuppke along with Chuck Carney as an all- 
time Illinois end. My brother was an entirely differ 
ent type of personality on the football field than I. 
While I was a quiet sort of player who could feel it 
inside, he could stimulate the entire team with his 
enthusiasm. He breathed fire and brimstone, and be 
fore a game we almost wanted to tie him up for fear 
he might go out on the field and kill somebody. 

149 



Midway through the 1929 season, I suffered the 
most painful injury I ever received in football. We 
were playing the New York Giants and halfway 
through the first quarter I banged my elbow on the 
ground as I tackled one of the Giants' runners. I 
immediately felt a strange sensation in my arm and 
thought it was broken. I couldn't lift the arm and never 
had anything hurt me so. I left the game, went up to 
the dressing room and lay down on the rubbing table. 
I was perspiring and breathing heavily when Dr. John 
Davis, the club physician, looked me over and said, 
"Red, your arm is out of the socket at the shoulder. 
We better get it back in as soon as possible. The longer 
it's out the harder it will be to put back in place and 
the more harm it will do/' The next thing I knew, 
Andy Lotshaw, the Bear trainer, grabbed my left arm, 
a clubhouse attendant held my feet and Dr. Davis took 
my right arm, pulled it way up over my head and 
down, snapping it back in the socket. It was the most 
excruciating pain I have ever experienced in my life. 

Although I was still sagging to the starboard, I was 
back in action against the same New York Giants two 
weeks later. After that injury, which I've always felt 
could be traced back to the damage done to my 
shoulder in the 1924 Minnesota game, trainer Lotshaw 
taped me from the elbow up to my shoulder for the 
next few seasons. Also, late in 1929 my knee began to 
bother me again so I had a special brace made up for 
protection. It was constructed out of elastic with two 
steel hinges along the sides and extended from about 
six inches below the knee to about six inches above it. 
150 



As a further precaution, Lotshaw would basket weave 
the knee with adhesive tape before putting on the 
brace. I wore that contraption every time I played 
until my retirement from football some five years later. 
With one shoulder taped and my knee encased in a 
brace, all I needed was a spear and shield and I would 
have looked like a knight in armor. How I was able to 
maneuver around on the field is still a mystery to me. 
In 1930, with the retirement of Paddy Driscoll as 
an active player, I became the Bears's regular left half 
back. By being able to play more often, I began to 
improve somewhat in my offensive game and by the 
time the season ended I had crossed the goal line six 
times, I think perhaps my best effort of the 1930 sea 
son was against the Portsmouth Spartans on Novem 
ber 30th. In that contest I scored one touchdown and 
passed to end Luke Johnsos for another as we beat 
the Spartans 14-6. Bronko Nagurski, the block-bust 
ing All- American tackle-fullback from Minnesota and 
one of football's all-time greats, made his pro debut 
that season. With the help of the Bronk's smashing 
power, the Bears were able to lift themselves from 
ninth place in the league standings in 1929 to third 
place in 1930. In the 1931 campaign the Bears again 
took third place and I racked up another six touch 
downs. On October llth I scored the Bears' lone 
touchdown as we beat the New York Giants 6-0, and 
the following week tallied three times as we made up 
a 7-0 half-time deficit and beat the Chicago Cardinals 
26-13. Nagurski roared sixty-five yards for the Bears' 
other marker in the game against the Cardinals. At 

151 



the end of the 1931 season I was named as the left 
halfback on the first all-league pro team ever picked. 

My best year after my comeback was 1932 when I 
accounted for nine touchdowns and again won a place 
on the all-league team as the left halfback. I was cap 
tain of the Bears during that season, and kept that 
honor until my retirement. The Bears had a great 
team in 1932, winning the World Professional Foot 
ball Championship on December 18th by beating 
Portsmouth, now the Detroit Lions, 9-0 in a play 
off game. Due to inclement weather, the contest was 
played indoors on an undersized field in the Chicago 
Stadium before a near-capacity crowd of 11,198. I was 
kicked in the head and knocked out in the second 
quarter of that game; but upon returning to action in 
the final period, Nagurski shot me a short pass over 
the center of the line in the end zone for the score. 
Tiny Engebretsen, a guard, kicked the extra point 
and, minutes later, just before the game ended, the 
Bears got two more points on a Spartan safety. 

John "Bull" Doehring and Bill Hewitt played their 
first year in pro football with the 1932 Bears. Doeh 
ring, a left-handed halfback who had come to the 
Bears directly from a Milwaukee high school, could 
throw a football farther than anyone I've ever known. 
He could heave a pigskin practically the distance of 
the playing field in the conventional way and could 
flip a pass from behind his back fifty-five yards. 
Hewitt, a tremendous competitor and an Ail-Ameri 
can from Michigan, went on in the pro ranks to es- 
152 



tablish himself as perhaps the greatest end who ever 
played football. 

I toyed with the idea of hanging up my cleats 
for good after the 1932 campaign, but George Halas 
talked me into sticking around for a couple more 
seasons. My speed was gone by 1933 as attested by 
the fact that I made only one touchdown that year* 
No longer the first-string left halfback, I alternated 
at that position throughout the 1933 season with 
George Corbett, Gene Ronzani and Keith Moles- 
worth. However, I did muster up enough strength to 
play a full sixty minutes in one game against the New 
York Giants when we nosed them out 14-10 on Octo 
ber 29th. I scored my one official touchdown on 
Thanksgiving Day, November 30th, when we beat the 
Chicago Cardinals 22-6 although three days later I 
had two more touchdowns which were called back for 
offsides when the Bears clinched the Western Divi 
sion Title by beating Portsmouth 17-7. 1933 was the 
year in which the National Professional Football 
League was divided into the Western Division and 
Eastern Division with five teams each. On December 
17th the Bears met the New York Giants, the win 
ners of the Eastern Division Title, in Wrigley Field 
for the World Title and came out on top of a 23-21 
score. Jack Manders, playing his first season with the 
Bears, accounted for 11 points in that championship 
clash with three field goals and two points after 
touchdown. 

I received one of my greatest thrills in pro football 

153 



in that Bear-Giant championship battle. It happened 
in the last few seconds of play when, with the Bears 
ahead 23-21, the Giants seriously threatened to break 
up the game- Harry Newman, the New Yorkers' quar 
terback and former Michigan All-American, threw a 
desperate twenty-eight-yard pass to Halfback Dale 
Burnett who broke into the clear and out of reach of 
the Bear secondary. With Center Mel Hein running 
alongside of him, I was the only one Burnett had to 
elude to cross the goal line with the game-winning 
touchdown. I knew Burnett would lateral to Hein as 
soon as I tackled him, so I grabbed him high, wrap 
ping my arms around his, thus preventing him from 
getting the ball away. As I pulled Burnett to the 
ground, the gun went off ending the game. 

After winning their second consecutive World 
Title in 1933 with twelve wins, two losses and one tie, 
the Bears went on an eight-game Western exhibition 
tour and won all their games by a big margin. The 
Bears also won three exhibition games during the reg 
ular season. On the western trip we played the Los 
Angeles All-Stars in Wrigley Field, Los Angeles, before 
twenty-four thousand on January 14, 1934, and I con 
tributed two touchdowns to our 26-7 victory. Both 
were made early in the first quarter. On the first one 
I cut over tackle, shook off two tacklers and ran sev 
enty-four yards for the score. Homer Griffith of the 
University of Southern California, the All-Star quar 
terback who was to become the Chicago Cardinal's 
regular quarterback the following season, chased me 
the last thirty yards and failed in a last effort with a 
154 



flying tackle at the goal line. Four minutes later, with 
the ball on our forty-five-yard line, "Bull" Doehring, 
the Bears' fabulous passer, tossed me a twenty-yard 
pass in the flat and I continued thirty-five more yards 
for the tally. I should have retired after that game, 
for I never had another day like that again. Most of 
the gains and touchdowns I made after my return to 
football in 1929 were on quick opening plays inside 
the ends. I was able, while I still had speed, to ex 
plode through the line for fairly consistent yardage, 
but, as I said earlier, couldn't do very much once I 
got into the open except run straight. My perform 
ance that day in Los Angeles was almost as if I were 
drawing my last dying breath as a football player. 

The first Chicago Tribune sponsored Ail-Star foot 
ball game was played at Soldier Field, Chicago, on 
Friday, August 31, 1934, with the champion Bears 
representing the pros against the college stars. The 
game ended in a 0-0 tie. I didn't get to play much be 
cause I was hurt in the first quarter when someone 
kneed me in the neck. Returning to the game in the 
final quarter, I managed to get off a pass good for a 
twenty-two-yard gain to Johnny Sisk, the Bears' right 
halfback, that enabled us to get down as far as the 
All-Stars' twenty-six-yard line, but our attack bogged 
down from there. Beattie Feathers of the University 
of Tennessee, who played left halfback for the College 
All-Stars, joined the Bear squad right after that game. 
In his first year with the Bears, the elusive, soft- 
spoken Feathers covered a record total of 1,004 yards 
from scrimmage, carrying the ball 117 times for an av- 

155 



erage of 8.5 yards per try. Feathers' ground-gaining 
record stood until 1949 when Steve Van Buren of the 
Philadelphia Eagles broke it with 1,146 yards. 

In 1934 I hardly played at all on offense. I usually 
went in when the Bears were deep in their own ter 
ritory. However, against the Cincinnati Reds on Sep 
tember SO, 1934, I scored one touchdown and got 
away for a seventeen-yard run as the Bears won the 
game 21-13. Three weeks later we played Cincinnati 
again and I scored another touchdown on a ten-yard 
pass from Doehring, then, later in the game, threw 
one myself to Quarterback Bernie Masterson for an 
eighteen-yard touchdown play as the Bears smothered 
the Reds 41-7. On November 4th I tallied once more 
as I took a pass from Quarterback George Corbett in 
the final period for a thirty-six-yard gain and a touch 
down as we beat the New York Giants 27-7. That 
touchdown was the final one of my career and the 
29th since my comeback in 1929. The week before 
that second game with Cincinnati, Saturday, October 
13th, I had the thrill of being invited down to Cham 
paign as the guest of honor of the University of 
Illinois on the occasion of their twenty-fifth Home 
coming. 

On Thanksgiving Day, November 29, 1934, the 
Bears beat the Detroit Lions 19-16 for their twelfth 
straight victory, and thereby sewed up the Western 
Division Title. Three days later the Bears beat the 
Lions again by a score of 10-7, and on December 9th 
met the Giants for the World Championship. New 
York took top honors in the Eastern Division in 1934 
156 



with eight wins and five losses. Many have considered 
the Bear team of that year which, going into the 
championship game, had won thirteen games with 
no losses or ties to be the greatest team in the his 
tory of college or professional football. In spite of the 
Bears' brilliant record for the season we lost the play 
off game to New York 30-13. The Bears held a 10-3 
advantage at half time, but the Giants came back to 
score four touchdowns and twenty-seven points in the 
last quarter, although they were unable to score more 
than nineteen points on us in eleven previous periods 
that season. New York accomplished this upset on a 
frozen field by wearing basketball shoes in the second 
half. Steve Owen, the Giants' coach, borrowed the 
shoes from nearby Manhattan College just before the 
game started. While the Bears slipped and skidded on 
their regulation football cleats as the field got more 
and more icy, the Giants' rubber-soled shoes enabled 
them to get a secure footing and they shoved the Bears 
around almost at will. From that day on, basketball 
shoes became regulation equipment for all pro-football 
teams for use in similar weather conditions. 

Jack Manders, who was dubbed "Automatic Jack" 
for his incredible kicking ability, booted two field 
goals and one point after touchdown for the Bears in 
that play-off game. During the 1934 season Manders 
kicked ten field goals and established a record that 
was to stand until 1950, when Lou Groza of the 
Cleveland Browns topped it with thirteen. The hero 
of the Giants' victory was Ken Strong, a former New 
York University All-American, who piled up seven- 

157 



teen of his team's thirty points with two touchdowns, 
two conversions and one field goal. 

On Sunday, January 27, 1935, the Bears defeated 
the New York Giants 21-0 in an exhibition clash be 
fore eighteen thousand in Hollywood's Gilmore Sta 
dium thus avenging the New Yorkers' win for the 
World's Championship five weeks earlier. Before go 
ing into that game I knew it was going to be my last 
appearance as an active player, as did my teammates 
and the Giant players. I played briefly in the first 
half, then went in again in the last quarter. The plan 
was to try and spring me loose for a touchdown at the 
first opportunity and, if lucky enough to score, I was 
going to lay the ball down in the end zone and walk 
right off the field. I almost made it, too. With the Bears 
in possession of the ball on their twenty-yard line, I 
took the pigskin and behind perfect blocking broke 
loose and got as far as mid-field, but my legs kept get 
ting heavier and heavier as I ran. I just about reached 
the Giants 1 thirty-nine-yard line after a foity-one-yard 
run when Cecil Irvin, a 230-pound tackle, pulled me 
down from behind. Almost thirty-two years old, and 
more than eleven years since I played my first college 
game, it was obvious I had hit the end of the trail. The 
Bears were all pulling for me to make that last touch 
down and were more disappointed than I when I failed 
to go the distance. Some of the Bear players were so 
mad at Irvin for catching up with me I was afraid 
they'd lynch him. As for myself, I didn't feel too badly. 
I had had more than my share of the breaks. 



158 



18 



The Modern "T" Is Born 



WHEN i PLAYED college football in 1923, 1924 
and 1925, there were three basic offenses used by the 
coaches of the day. They were the single wing, which 
Zuppke used at Illinois, the double wing and the 
Notre Dame Box formations. The single wing was al 
ways played with an unbalanced line that generally 
shifted strong to the right. In this formation one half 
back, who was called the wingback, stood about one 
yard back and a little bit outside of his own end on 
the strong side. The quarterback, who was the block 
ing back in the single wing, called the signals from 
about one yard behind his own right guard. The other 
halfback, called the tailback, took his position about 
four and a half yards directly behind the center and 
handled the ball on most plays, except on occasions 
when the fullback handled it on spinners and half 
spinners. The fullback's place in the single wing was 
about two yards to the right and slightly in front of 
the tailback. At Illinois I always played tailback. I also 
called signals from that position during the latter half 
of my senior year. 

The double wing, like the single wing, had an un 
balanced line. It differed from the latter formation 

159 



only in that there were two wingbacks instead of one. 
This was accomplished by eliminating the fullback 
spot and moving the extra backfield man over to the 
identical position behind the end on the weak side as 
the one wingback in the single wing assumed on the 
strong side. The Notre Dame Box was about the same 
as the single wing except that it was played with a 
balanced line with the fullback being moved more to 
the right to form a lopsided box. I wish to point out 
here that although the single- and double-wing forma 
tions were as I've described them, some coaches made 
slight alterations insofar as the spacing of the backs. 

During the 1925 and 1929 seasons, my first two pro 
campaigns with the Chicago Bears, they were using 
what is known today as the old fashioned "T" forma 
tion. They were the only team to my knowledge in col 
lege and professional football who stuck to this forma 
tion even after the single wing became more popular. 
The old "T" used a balanced line with the quarter 
back stationed directly behind the center where he 
could take a hand-to-hand snap. The fullback stood 
about four yards directly behind the quarterback 
with the halfbacks close on each side of the fullback, 
directly behind their own guards. This compact for 
mation used quick opening plays through guard and 
tackle for the most part, but wasn't very effective for 
wide plays. 

The Bears continued with this type of "T" until 

1930, when Ralph Jones took over the coaching reins 

from co-coaches George Halas and Edward "Dutch" 

Sternaman. Jones had been at Illinois from 1913 to 

160 



1920 as head basketball mentor and served as back- 
field coach under Bob Zuppke. Both Halas and Ster- 
naman came in contact with Jones when they played 
at Illinois, and developed great confidence in him as a 
strategist and a leader. 

When Jones became head coach of the Bears he 
did three things to the old "T" to transform it into 
what is now regarded as the modern "TV* One, he 
moved the ends from one to two yards away from the 
tackles. Two, he widened the halfbacks so that they 
lined up straddling the outside leg of their own tack 
les. Three, he put a Man in Motion. These changes 
which were made to the old "T" resulted in open 
ing up the defense by spreading them out and, conse 
quently, opened up the entire game. The modern 
"T/' like the old "T," is based on quick opening plays, 
but the big difference comes on pitchouts by the 
quarterback to the halfbacks or the fullback for wide 
end runs and also plenty of passing by the quarter 
back. Also, the single wing formation was based on 
power, where two men generally blocked one, while 
the "T" is based on deception, usually man for man 
blocking. In the "T" it isn't even necessary to knock 
the defensive man off his feet, because it strikes so 
lightning fast. 

The Man in Motion portion of the modern "T" 
came about quite by accident on September 28, 1930, 
during a game between the Bears and the Green Bay 
Packers. Before we went into that contest, Jones in 
structed the halfback who was not slated to carry the 
ball to fake out to one side or the other depending 

161 



upon which side the play went. After making one of 
those fakes myself in that game, Carl Brumbaugh, the 
Bears' quarterback, asked me when we came back in 
the huddle, "Is there anyone covering you on those 
wide fakes?'* When I replied there wasn't, Brumbaugh 
ordered: "Then heads up this time, Red, 'cause I'm 
gonna throw you a lateral after you fake." There was 
no such play in our repertoire, but we often made up 
new plays in the huddle. We tried the play and I made 
a nice gain. On the next time out Brumbaugh and I 
talked about working it again. I suggested to him that 
inasmuch as football rules permit one back in motion 
laterally before the ball is snapped, it might be a good 
idea for me to start the fake out to the side a second 
or two before he took the hand-to-hand snap from 
center. Brumbaugh agreed to call the play that way 
and it worked so well we continued using it the rest of 
the game. This maneuver forced Green Bay to change 
their defense by pulling out one of their line backers 
to cover the Man in Motion, and thus gave them one 
less man to back up the line. 

Although the Bears lost to the Packers 7 to that 
day, Coach Ralph Jones, seeing the possibilities of 
the Man in Motion, immediately went to work on in 
corporating it as a regular part of his new "T" for 
mation. When George Halas resumed his coaching 
chores of the Bears in 1933, he began the process of 
refining the modern "T" with the Man in Motion as 
an integral part of the new formation. He developed 
new plays, such as trap plays and delayed plays, in 
vented counterplays, and unveiled a highly effective 
and intricate passing attack for the modern "T." 
162 



At the same time Halas took over the Bears* coach 
ing reins again in 1933, Clark Shaughnessy, who 
gained considerable fame as head coach of Tulane 
and Loyola of the South, succeeded A. A. Stagg as head 
football coach of the University of Chicago. Shaugh 
nessy became intrigued with the new football strat 
egy employed by the Bears across town and, by 1936, 
began working with Halas on developing many new 
variations of the modern "T" although he never at 
tempted to use it while coaching at Chicago. In 1940, 
after football was abandoned on the Midway, Shaugh 
nessy took over the head coaching spot at Stanford 
University and installed the modern "T" at the 
Pacific coast school exactly as the Bears played it. It 
was, to my knowledge, the first time the modern *T* 
with the Man in Motion was ever employed by a major 
college eleven. In 1939 the Stanford Indians were 
beaten seven times to wind up in last place in the 
Pacific Coast Conference, so Shaughnessy had nothing 
to lose and everything to gain by trying it. The experi 
ment worked miracles as the Indians not only won the 
coast championship in 1940 with an undefeated season, 
but topped it off by defeating Nebraska 21-13 in the 
Rose Bowl on January 1, 1941, for the most spectacular 
season in the school's then fifty-year history. That 
same year the Chicago Bears beat the Washington 
Redskins by a whopping 73-0 score for the World 
Professional Football Championship. During the first 
ten years, from 1930 to 1940, that the Bears used the 
modern "T," they won three (1932, 1933, 1940) World 
Championships and two (1934, 1937) Western Divi 
sion titles. With the phenomenal success of the Stan- 

163 



ford Indians and the Chicago Bears, almost every 
coach in college and pro ball was eager to jump on the 
modern "T" bandwagon. It was only a matter of a few 
years until the modern "T" became the most widely 
used football formation in the game. 

I've heard some of the older coaches say they used 
the "T," as we know it today, almost forty years ago, 
but most football experts agree it was Jones who first 
put it in operation in 1930. If they did employ a 
"T" formation before 1930, it must have been the old 
fashioned "T." As far as I know, Ralph Jones originated 
the modern "T" and both George Halas and Clark 
Shaughnessy developed and perfected it. Today the 
modern "T" has taken on varied forms as many coaches 
employ their own particular versions of the formation. 
Two specific variations that come to mind are the split 
"T" and the wing "T," which are merely segments of 
the modern "T." The wing "T" is somewhat like the 
Notre Dame Box with the Man in Motion added to it, 
whereas the split "T" just widens the linemen and the 
halfbacks in the regular "T." 

I believe that most players would rather play the 
"T" than any other formation, because it's less bruis 
ing and more fun. It can be compared to a chess or 
poker game where bluffing and faking the opposition 
is so important. The fans like it too, since it opens up 
the game more. And it's interesting to note that regard 
less of what has been accomplished to date, the surface 
has only been scratched on this new and progressive for 
mation the modern "T" is sure to become more 
highly developed every year. 
164 



19 

The Years Following 



AFTER i HUNG UP my cleats for good, following 
that game with the Giants in January, 1935, I re 
mained with the Chicago Bears as an assistant coach 
for nearly three more seasons. After my first year in 
the coaching ranks, George Halas told me any time I 
wanted to take over as head coach of the Bears he 
would step out. I was highly flattered by Halas' offer, 
but didn't think I had enough experience for the job. 
Besides, I never had any ambition to be a head coach 
in either the professional or college ranks. A coach puts 
in four times as many hours as a player, is under con 
stant strain to produce a winning team and must be 
prepared to take considerable abuse if he is unsuccess 
ful in turning out a winner. It wasn't in my physical 
make-up to push myself that hard or work under such 
pressure. 

In the fall of 1937, while I was still serving as an 
assistant to Halas, I got a call one day from the secre 
tary of Jim Peterson, the president of Hinckley & 
Schmitt, a water and soft-drink company in Chicago. 
I was informed Mr. Peterson wanted to discuss a busi 
ness matter with me. A luncheon date was set at the 
Union League Club. I never met the man before but, 

165 



getting together for lunch, discovered he had gradu 
ated from Illinois the year before I entered and was 
one of my greatest rooters. He told me he saw just 
about every game I played in, both college and pro 
fessional. When, during the course of conversation, 
Mr. Peterson asked me what my plans were for the fu 
ture and I told him I had no desire to pursue coach 
ing as a career, he said he could offer me a fine oppor 
tunity if I would be interested in going to work for 
him. Discussing his proposition in more detail a few 
days later I agreed to join his company as the sales- 
promotion manager. I tried to continue with my coach 
ing chores with the Bears at the same time, but after 
about five weeks of that it got to be too much of a 
burden trying to hold down two jobs. In the middle of 
the 1937 football season I resigned my coaching posi 
tion so I could devote full time to my new business 
connection. At this juncture I would like to mention 
that for most of the nine years I worked for Halas we 
never had a contract or a specified salary arrangement. 
He always gave me exactly what I thought I was worth. 
George Halas is not only one of the greatest figures in 
all football history as a strategist and leader, but one 
of the finest men I've ever known. His warm friendship 
through the years has meant a great deal to me. 

I was associated with Jim Peterson's organization 
for five years, and during that time we became very 
good friends. One day, after I had been with him for 
about four years, he said to me, "Red, I shouldn't be 
saying this because I don't want to see you leave, but 
a guy like you ought to get into a business of your own. 
166 



That's the only way you'll ever make big money and 
be free to do all the things you want to do." That re 
mark got me to thinking. Some time later a highly suc 
cessful insurance man named Howard Potter, a friend 
of Peterson's, joined Jim and myself on a three-week 
vacation in Arizona. During the course of the trip 
Howard suggested I go into the insurance business. He 
said he was sure I could do well in that field and, best 
of all, it would afford me the opportunity to engage in 
other activities as well. The idea sounded appealing and 
Jim encouraged me to give the matter serious thought, 
I began studying for the brokers' examination when I 
got back to Chicago and, in September, 1942, left my 
job with Hinckley & Schmitt to become an insurance 
broker. I'm still in the insurance business today and it 
turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to 
me from a business standpoint. 

Late one Friday night in the fall of 1940, I boarded 
an Omaha-bound United Air Lines plane in Chicago 
and, although I didn't realize it at the time, that flight 
turned out to be the greatest break of my life. I was 
headed for Lincoln, Nebraska, to do a radio interview 
show for an oil sponsor with coaches Biff Jones and 
Gwenn Henry of Nebraska and Kansas respectively, 
whose teams were scheduled to meet the next day. 
While working for Jim Peterson I kept myself busy 
with radio assignments and speaking engagements on 
week ends during the football season. Getting back to 
the flight, the stewardess on the plane was an attractive, 
friendly girl named Margaret Hazelberg, We got in 
volved in conversation and she expressed a desire to 

167 



see a Bear football game in Chicago, where she was 
headquartered. By promising to get her some tickets, 
I wangled her phone number. Within a few weeks we 
had our first date, and after that "Muggs" and I saw 
one another on and off for about a year but she never 
did see the Bears play until some five years later. On 
October 13, 1941, we drove off by ourselves to Crown 
Point, Indiana, and were married. My only regret is 
that I didn't take that plane ride sooner. My wife has 
been a wonderful pal to me, a constant source of in 
spiration and unquestionably the finest "manager" a 
man could have. 

After I became an insurance broker in the fall of 
1942, I began to devote most of my spare time during 
the football season to radio and speaking engagements 
around the country. Although I had a busy schedule 
I filled whatever hours I had left working with youth 
groups and attending important football meetings 
such as the New York Herald Tribune's Coaches 
Clinic, where I appeared as one of the guest lecturers 
in 1946. By 1948 I was doing play-by-play accounts of 
football games every week on radio and television, as 
well as three other weekly radio and television shows. 
At the conclusion of the 1952 season I had done alto 
gether sixty-one play-by-play games on network TV. 
As if this weren't enough to keep me busy, I was 
elected in November, 1950, to the Board of Trustees 
of the University of Illinois for a six-year term. I didn't 
seek the job nor did I have the slightest inkling that 
I was even being considered for the post. The first time 
I knew anything about it was when I read in the morn- 
168 



ing paper of August 12, 1950, that I was one of three 
Republicans nominated to run for the office in the 
November elections. The Republicans held their 
state convention the night before, while Harry Wismer 
and I were broadcasting the annual All-Star game be 
tween the College All-Stars and the Philadelphia 
Eagles in Soldier Field, Chicago. In spite of the heavy 
pressure of my other work, I felt it a great privilege 
to be able to serve my old school and one of the lead 
ing universities in the land. 

In early April, 1951, the Associated Press, in con 
junction with the National Football Hall of Fame, 
conducted a poll among one hundred leading sports 
writers from coast to coast to determine an All-Time, 
Ail-American football team. It was the first time any 
thing like this had ever been done before on such a 
broad and representative scale, although the Chicago 
Bears organization picked an All-Time All-American 
team in 1946 on the basis of a poll they made of fans 
and sports writers. The Bears and AP polls honored 
me along with such greats as Bronko Nagurski, Willie 
Heston, Jim Thorpe, Don Hutson, Walter "Pudge" 
Heffelfinger, Benny Oosterbaan, Adolph "Germany" 
Schultz, Ernie Nevers, William "Fats" Henry, Jack 
Cannon, Sammy Baugh and others. I received a total 
of 704 points in the Associated Press poll for the 
largest point total of any of the other players named, 
making me an almost unanimous choice for one of the 
halfback positions on the Ail-Time All-American 
squad. It was a tribute of which I'm both proud and 
grateful. 

169 



Instead of slowing down as I got older, I quickened 
the pace. During the 1951 football season I literally 
burned the candle at both ends. Besides carrying on 
my regular insurance business, tending to my duties 
as a trustee of the University of Illinois and appearing 
as a speaker at about fifty football banquets, I at 
tempted to carry what would normally be considered 
a full-time load of radio and television commitments. 
For example, on Mondays I transcribed a radio show, 
based on predictions of football games for the coming 
week, that was syndicated in about fifty cities. Tuesday 
and Thursday evenings I was on television. I did the 
Tuesday show with Luke Johnsos, a former teammate 
of mine and, for years, an assistant coach of the Chi 
cago Bears. Called "The Chicago Bears Quarterback 
Club/' it was a recap of the Bear game of the preced 
ing Sunday. Luke and I started that TV show in 1948, 
and it has been on every fall since. On Friday nights 
I'd leave for some midwestern town where, on Satur 
days, Bob Elson and I would broadcast an important 
Big Ten or Notre Dame game. Saturday nights found 
me on a plane bound for an Eastern city where I was 
to describe a National Professional Football game the 
next afternoon with Joe Hasel on one of the TV 
networks. And this was the schedule of the guy who 
thought he couldn't push himself or work too hard. It 
was a killing pace, but I didn't realize it because I so 
enjoyed what I was doing. After nearly three months 
of this, I began to show the effects of overwork. I was 
looking haggard and felt a fatigue I never knew before. 
My wife became concerned about my health and was 
170 



after me to slow down. I promised her I would take a 
good rest immediately after the season which, at that 
time, was only a few weeks away. 

On Friday, December 14th, I went down to Kirks- 
ville, Missouri with Mark Cox, an executive of the 
Wilson Sporting Goods Company with which I was 
also associated in an advisory capacity. Mark's close 
friend was coach of the football team at the Northeast 
Missouri State Teachers College in Kirksville, and I 
promised to speak at the annual football banquet there. 
The week before I had been on a speaking tour of cities 
in Tennessee, Ohio, and South Dakota. I didn't feel 
right on the train to Kirksville. I lay down in our draw 
ing room and didn't get up until we arrived in Kirksville 
where I rested in the hotel room during our entire stay 
except for the few hours I spent at the banquet. I be 
gan to feel worse when I left Kirksville and when I 
arrived in Chicago Saturday morning, I went straight 
home to bed. Muggs, who was a nurse before she 
became an airline stewardess, immediately took my 
temperature and it was 103. At first she thought I 
might have a virus infection, but when I seemed to get 
weaker as the day wore on, Muggs became alarmed and 
called Dr. Leonard S. Ceasar. The doctor, whose wife 
had been a stewardess with Muggs, came over and upon 
taking my blood pressure found it at a dangerously low 
75. He summoned an ambulance at nine o'clock that 
night to take me to the hospital. I remember that as sick 
as I was, I was embarrassed when they carried me out 
of my apartment on a stretcher. 

At the West Suburban Hospital in Oak Park, Illi- 

171 



nois, the doctor's fears were confirmed when a cardio 
gram showed I had suffered a heart attack. I was 
shocked when I heard the news, for although I had 
incurred many injuries during my playing career, I 
was never seriously ill before. The doctor told me, 
"You've got a coronary, Red, but if you do everything 
I tell you, Fm sure you'll pull out o this and be all 
right again." For five weeks I remained glued to my 
hospital bed and my phone was cut off so I wouldn't 
be disturbed. My wife was my nurse. Staying with me 
day and night, she slept on a cot in my room at the 
hospital. In the afternoons Muggs would leave me just 
long enough to go down to my office to see that things 
were in order. While hospitalized I got stacks of cards 
and letters not only from friends, but from people I 
never even heard of. It helped a great deal to cheer me 
up. 

For almost three months after I left the hospital 
I was confined to my home as a semi-invalid. At the 
end of this time I began to feel some of my strength 
coming back. My blood pressure went up to 127 and 
my cardiogram was normal again, or as normal as it 
could possibly be after a coronary. During my illness 
I went down from 210 pounds to 170 pounds which 
was what I weighed when a sophomore in college. 
I now watch my diet closely, and intend to stay at that 
weight from here on in. I believe being overweight was 
an important factor in my getting sick. 

Today, thanks to the splendid care given me by my 
doctor and my devoted wife, I am able to do almost 
everything I did before. The big difference is that what 
172 



I do now is done in moderation. During the 1952 foot 
ball season I was on television twice weekly with "The 
Chicago Bears Quarterback Club" and my play-by-play 
reporting of all Chicago Cardinals and Chicago Bears 
home games. I also accepted a limited number of speak 
ing dates. I go down to my office every day in the 
Insurance Exchange Building in Chicago, but leave by 
midafternoon so I can go home and rest. My siege in 
the hospital taught me how to relax and made me 
realize that one doesn't have to be active all the time 
to be happy. In a sense I consider myself lucky for 
having had that heart attack. I've been given a warning. 
Now that I'm cutting down on my activities and have 
learned the secret of relaxation, I hope to live on to a 
ripe old age. 



173 



20 

In Retrospect 



WHATEVER SUCCESS I may have achieved in 
sports can be credited to my father. I owe him every 
thing for encouraging me to pursue my athletic activ 
ities and for insisting that I go to college. He wanted 
all the things for his sons that he didn't have for him 
self. Dad never interfered with anything I ever wanted 
to do and never gave advice unless I asked for it. And 
I seldom sought advice from him. He considered me 
a man when I was twenty-one years old and, as always, 
let me work out my own problems as best I could. 
"You're the fella who has to live with it," Dad would 
say. "If you believe in yourself you 11 do what you 
think is right regardless of what I tell you." When 
things didn't work out for me as I had planned them, 
my father was all the more understanding and con 
siderate. He would try consoling me with: "Don't let 
it get you down, Red. Like everyone else, you're gonna 
make a lot more mistakes in your lifetime." I was 
mighty lucky to have a father like that. 

I got a great break at Illinois and nobody knows 
that better than I do. I ended up making most of the 
team's touchdowns and getting all the publicity, be 
cause Coach Bob Zuppke let me carry the ball 90 per 

174 



cent of the time. In most of the games I carried the 
bail thirty to forty times. That I was given the ball 
often certainly wasn't enough I had to be able to 
ran well with it. But it was the ten other men on the 
field who enabled me to make the most of my running 
ability. Without them I could never have scored those 
touchdowns. They are the unsung heroes. One of the 
first things Zup taught me was that there are no one- 
man teams in footbalL "Football is a game of team 
work/' he'd say, "Let one man fall down and it can 
prevent a play from working. The player who carries 
the ball is no more important to a football team 
than any one of the other ten players. Because of the 
publicity given a ball carrier, the public may think of 
him as being more important, but everyone on the 
team including himself knows otherwise/' I for one 
could never understand how a man who attains a meas 
ure of success in athletics or any other field can be 
come conceited and overimpressed with himself. All 
that kind of a person has to do is make an honest evalu 
ation of his case history and he'll be quick to realize 
that he couldn't possibly have accomplished what he 
did without the help of others, 

I've often been asked by parents, do you think I 
should let my son play football? My answer has always 
been that a boy should never be forced into it, but if 
he displays an interest, then he should be encouraged. 
Also, parents should see to it that their boy plays 
with the proper equipment, gets some reliable instruc 
tion and coaching and plays with boys his own size. If 
a youngster plays football under these conditions 

175 



you'll never have to worry about him being able to 
take good care of himself. Let me emphasize here that 
a boy doesn't necessarily have to be a star. He can get 
a lot out of any competitive sport just by playing it. 
Participation in sports develops character and keeps a 
boy out of trouble. It teaches him discipline, fair play, 
how to withstand terrific pressure, and the meaning of 
working with other people. He also learns that hard 
work pays off, that one must be able to lose as well as 
win gracefully. I've long had the belief that as long as 
we have our young people engaging in competitive 
sports, our country will always remain in good hands. 
In my opinion there are six factors that go into the 
making of a great athlete. First is ability. It isn't neces 
sary for a boy to have an excessive amount of ability, 
but he must be able to do certain things which are 
required for the particular sport in which he partici 
pates. Second, he must begin working on developing 
his body and his ability when he is ten, eleven or 
twelve years old. That's the time to start forming good 
habits and correcting bad ones. A boy can avoid a lot 
of pitfalls later if he starts out early enough. Third, a 
boy must have intelligence. I don't believe there ever 
was a great athlete who was slow-witted, because it is 
impossible to survive in athletics without having to do 
a considerable amount of thinking for yourself. Fourth 
is courage; and courage takes various forms such as 
running head-on into a 250-pound lineman, or 
stepping up to the free-throw line in a close basketball 
game. Fifth, a boy must have a love for athletics. It's 
not all fun to be a great athlete. It means lots of hard 
176 



work and giving up many of the pleasures of life. In 
back of all the glory an athlete receives the day of the 
big game are countless hours devoted to training and 
practicing. Sixth and last, but by no means least, is 
determination. If a boy is to succeed he must be de 
termined to do so. Success in athletics like anything 
else won't come to him merely because he wants it, has 
ability or started out at a young age. A boy has to give 
it all he's got at all times. 

While I'm at it I might as well write what I think 
it is that makes a great football coach. There are many 
hundreds of young football coaches in the country to 
day who may have as much technical knowledge of 
football as a Bob Zuppke, a Pop Warner, an Amos 
Alonzo Stagg, a Knute Rockne, a Fielding Yost or a 
George Halas. But they lack that certain something 
that the Zuppkes and the Rocknes had in their person 
alities that made them the coaching geniuses they were. 
Besides being outstanding strategists and untiring 
workers, those coaching immortals had the rare gift of 
being able to get the most out of their players. They 
knew exactly how to handle their men. It was instinc 
tive with them. That was their greatness. To have 
played under any of their banners was a privilege 
indeed. 

In conclusion, I wish to say that I shall be forever 
grateful to the great game of football for all that it has 
done for me. Through football I've been able to meet 
and get to know many thousands of wonderful people. 
Football has brought me not only stimulating acquaint 
ances, but enduring friendships as well. Football has 

177 



enabled me to do and see most of the things I wanted 
in life and made it possible to earn a good living 
through the years. Thanks to football, I feel I've had a 
truly exciting and interesting life. For the benefit of 
the younger set who may have read this book, may I 
again recall for the purpose of bringing out a moral, 
that when I was a kid the only thing I thought about 
was athletics. It was my whole life and I put everything 
I had into it. The future took care of itself. When the 
breaks came I was ready for them. Any boy can realize 
his dreams if he's willing to work and make sacrifices 
along the way. 



178 



For the Record 

Red Grange's record at the University of Illinois 















Yds. by 




Yds. by 


1923 Season: 


M.P. 


T. 


Running P. 


Passing 


Illinois 


24, 


Nebraska 


7 


39 


3 


202 






Illinois 


21, 


Butler 


7 


28 


2 


142 






Illinois 


9, 


Iowa 


6 


60 


1 


174 






Illinois 


29, 


Northwestern 





19 


3 


247 






Illinois 


7, 


Chicago 





59 


1 


173 






Illinois 


10, 


Wisconsin 





30 


1 


139 






*Illinois 


27, 


Mississippi A&M 















Illinois 


9, 


Ohio State 





60 


1 


183 










Totals 




295 


12 


1,260 






1924 Season: 


Illinois 


9, 


Nebraska 


6 


60 





116 


6 


127 


Illinois 


40, 


Butler 





16 


2 


104 


2 


42 


Illinois 


39, 


Michigan 


14 


41 


5 


402 


6 


78 


*Illinois 


45, 


De Pauw 















Illinois 


36, 


Iowa 





45 


2 


186 


3 


86 


Illinois 


21, 


Chicago 


21 


60 


3 


300 


7 


150 


Illinois 


7, 


Minnesota 


20 


44 


1 


56 


3 


41 


*Illinois 


7, 


Ohio State 



















Totals 




266 


13 


1,164 


27 


524 


1925 Season: 


Illinois 


0, 


Nebraska 


14 


51 





57 


1 


18 


Illinois 


16, 


Butler 


13 


41 


2 


196 


2 


22 


Illinois 


10, 


Iowa 


12 


60 


1 


233 


2 


24 


Illinois 


0, 


Michigan 


3 


60 





147 








Illinois 


24, 


Pennsylvania 


2 


57 


3 


363 


1 


13 


Illinois 


13, 


Chicago 


6 


60 





64 








**lllinois 


21, 


Wabash 





5 














Illinois 


14, 


Ohio State 


9 


48 





153 


9 


42 






Totals 




382 


6 


1,213 


15 


119 



*Did not play. 
**Made only an appearance. Did not carry the ball. 



179 



Grand total at the University of Illinois: 938 minutes played; 31 
touchdowns; 3,637 yards gained by running; 42 passes completed; 
643 yards gained by passing; 4,280 yards gained by running and 
passing. 

Scoring record at Wheaton High School, 1919 through 1921: 
75 touchdowns; 82 conversions. Total: 532 points. 

Scoring record at the University of Illinois, 1923 through 1925: 
31 touchdowns. Total: 186 Points. 

*Scoring record with the Chicago Bears-New York Yankees, 1925 
through 1934: 
56 touchdowns; 4 conversions. Total: 340 Points. 

Grand total in high-school, college, and professional football: 
162 touchdowns; 86 conversions. Total: 1,058 Points. 

*Inactive during 1928 Season. 

Red Grange's physical measurements 
during his senior year in college 

Neck 15.6 inches 

Wrist 8 inches 

Reach 74 inches 

Arm Length. 30 inches 

Biceps 14% inches 

Chest, normal 38 inches 

Chest, expanded 44 inches 

Waist 35 inches 

Thigh 23 1 /2 inches 

Calf 16 inches 

Ankle 10 inches 

Height 5 ft. 11 inches 

Weight 175 pounds 

Age: 22 



180 



Afterword 

In 1954, Red Grange and his wife, Margaret, whom 
he affectionately called "Muggs," left Chicago and moved 
to Florida. They had been thinking about making the 
move for a long time. Both had traveled extensively 
and chose the area for their retirement because of its 
temperate year-round climate. 

The Granges first lived in Miami, then after a few 
years settled in a beautiful new residential community 
in central Florida called Indian Lakes Estates. There 
they built their dream house, which Red designed 
himself. It was a comfortable, moderately sized ranch 
house with an indoor swimming pool, a lush garden, 
and a lagoon situated at the edge of their backyard. 
They kept a small cabin cruiser tied up at their pier 
and often went for leisurely spins around the nearby 
lake. Red also enjoyed tending his garden, trimming 
bushes and trees, and doing odd jobs around the house. 

Wildlife abounded near the Grange home. Red loved 
to feed the quail, rabbits, and Sandhill cranes that came 
up to the front door looking for food. He once tried 
to make a pet of a baby alligator that lived in the lagoon 
and kept popping up around the pier. He fed it regularly 
by hand but wisely gave up the practice after a few 
months when the creature began to show signs of 
aggression. 

181 



From the time Red moved to Florida until his full 
retirement in 1969 he continued to work part-time 
during the football season as a public relations repre 
sentative for a national beverage company and a sports- 
caster for college and professional football games. When 
he finally left the broadcast booth after a twenty-nine- 
year career, Red estimated he had covered about 480 
games on both radio and television (included in that 
number were thirty-two bowl games). To the best of 
my knowledge he was the first prominent athlete to be 
hired as a full-fledged sportscaster. His experience, ex 
pertise, and insight as a player impressed broadcast 
executives and enabled him to bring an added dimension 
to play-by-play and color reporting and thus open up 
new opportunities for other athletes who had once 
excelled in their sport. 

Red was sixty-six years old when he cashed in his 
chips and withdrew from all business commitments. He 
was in a position to retire without any financial worries, 
something it had taken a long time and an extraordinary 
amount of grit and determination to achieve. During 
his heyday as a football player he had invested heavily 
in a new football franchise and in the stock market. 
When the team faltered financially and the market 
crashed in 1929, Red was wiped out, but he worked 
feverishly for the next forty years to recoup his losses. 
Red had experienced hard times as a child and as a 
young man, and he resolved never to be in that position 
again. 

In 1963, six years before his retirement, Red Grange 
was inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame 
182 



as a charter member. Jim Thorpe, Bronko Nagurski, 
George Halas, Cal Hubbard, George Marshall, Earl 
"Curly" Lambeau, Johnny "Blood" McNally, Bert Bell, 
Joe Carr, Ernie Nevers, and Earl "Dutch" Clark were 
the other inductees in that initial ceremony. It was one 
of the most memorable and significant tributes Red was 
to receive during his lifetime, matched only by an event 
that took place eleven years later. 

On October 19, 1974, Red returned to the University 
of Illinois for "Red Grange Day." More than 55,000 
students, faculty, alumni, and Illini football fans turned 
out to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the 
dedication of Memorial Stadium and to celebrate Red's 
historic 1924 performance against the University of 
Michigan. The Wolverines once again provided the 
opposition, but instead of a 39-14 Illinois rout, the teams 
played to a 21-21 tie. The outcome mattered little to 
most of those in attendance. What they had come to 
see was the return of "The Galloping Ghost" to hallowed 
ground. 

Red did not disappoint the crowd. Just before game 
time he acknowledged a standing ovation with a big 
smile and hands held high as he walked from the 
horseshoe entrance at the south end of the field to his 
eastside box on the fifty-yard line. When formally in 
troduced at the special halftime ceremonies, his voice 
was filled with emotion as he thanked everyone for 
remembering him after so many years. During the game 
he signed autographs, shook every outstretched hand, 
posed for pictures, and responded to almost every 
request from the horde of media people. His presence 

183 



that day was living testimony to a glorious period in the 
university's athletic history. 

Four years later, Red made his final trip to the 
Midwest, this time for a visit to his hometown of 
Wheaton, Illinois. He went for the dedication of the 
DuPage Heritage Gallery and the Red Grange Archives, 
which houses a vast collection of Grange memorabilia. 
James R. Thompson, then governor of Illinois and the 
main speaker, said during the course of his remarks: 
"As individuals, as residents of a community, as citizens 
of our Republic and as members of the human race we 
need to have heroes . . . heroes as exemplars of those 
rare men and women whose spirit transcends any cat 
egory, a Red Grange/* 

In January 1980, NBC-TV devoted an entire "To 
morrow" show to an interview with Red. Host Tom 
Snyder did his portion of the telecast from a studio in 
New York, while Red appeared via satellite from his 
home in Florida. It was a very informal visit with Snyder 
asking various questions about Red's football career and 
his life as a "retired gentleman." As usual, Red left it 
up to the interviewer to recall his legendary feats on 
the gridiron while he concentrated on telling humorous 
anecdotes about players, coaches, and game officials. At 
one point, Snyder asked a question that he hoped would 
generate a historic response: "How did you happen to 
get your famous number 77"? With a twinkle in his eye 
Red replied, "When I was a freshman, I stood in the 
line where they were passing out uniforms. The guy in 
front of me was handed the uniform with number 76 
on it and the guy behind he got number 78." This was 
184 



pretty much the tone of the entire interview. Snyder 
and the program's viewers loved it. 

In February 1981, Red left the sunshine of Florida 
and braved the cold and snow of New Haven, Con 
necticut, to attend an elegant black-tie dinner at Yale 
University Commons. It was the Fourteenth Annual 
Awards Dinner of the Walter Camp Foundation. Six 
different awards were given out that night, and Red 
was there to receive the most prestigious one of all: the 
Walter Camp Distinguished American Award. The ac 
companying citation read: " Whenever and wherever 
football fans gather, the shadow of The Galloping Ghost 
is cast across the field. Throughout his career and 
thereafter, Harold "Red" Grange came to represent the 
best in American sportsmanship. He is a leader, an 
innovator and pioneer who was so outstanding in the 
development of his talents, his accomplishments must 
not pass without being recognized by the Walter Camp 
Foundation." Red responded to this great honor with 
his typical self-effacing humor. *Tm thrilled to be here," 
he said. "I heard about Yale when I was a poor kid 
growing up in Wheaton, and the closest I ever thought 
I'd get to this place was to poke my nose in the back 
door and take a quick look around." 

When Red turned eighty on June 13, 1983, just about 
every small-town and big-city newspaper in the land 
noted the occasion with feature stories recalling his 
contributions to the game of football and to sports in 
general. In Forksville, Pennsylvania, where he was born, 
the residents of that still small community gathered for 
a birthday party in his honor. At this point in his life 

185 



he had ruled out all travel, but he willingly agreed to 
speak to the devoted townsfolk via a special speaker- 
phone hookup. 

For Red, the winter of his life was indeed sw r eet. His 
health was excellent at the time of his retirement and 
remained so until about three years before his passing. 
He thoroughly enjoyed being free of responsibilities, 
and when asked what he did with his time he would 
smile broadly and answer, "I do nothing." When the 
infirmities of age set in, he accepted them stoically and 
without complaint. After his heart attack at age forty- 
eight, he did not expect to reach his number "77" and 
considered every year past forty-eight a bonus. Confined 
to a nursing home in the last few months of his life, he 
died -peacefully on January 28, 1991, at the age of 
eighty-seven, just nine months before he and his beloved 
Muggs were to celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniver 
sary. 

Red Grange surely enjoyed the public acclaim he 

V 

received during his lifetime. He would not have been 
human if he hadn't. But I have always believed that 
deep down he never fully understood why everyone 
made such a fuss over him. Such was the depth of his 
humility. The world of sports may never see the likes 
of him again. 

Ira Morton 
Phoenix, Arizona 



186 



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